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HUSBANDMEN of hill and dale, 

O dressers of the vines, 
O sea-tossed fighters of the gale, 

O hewers of the mines, 
O wealthy ones who need not strive, 

O sons of learning, art, 
O craftsmen of the city's hive, 

O traders of the mart, 
Hark to the cannon's thunder-call 

Appealing to the brave I 
Your France is wounded, and may fall 

Beneath the foreign glave ! 
Then gird your loins 1 Let none delay 

Her glory to maintain ; 
Drive out the foe, throw off his sway, 

Win back your land again 1 

1870. E. A. V. 


WHILE this volume is largely of an autobiographical 
character, it will be found to contain also a variety 
of general information concerning the Franco-German 
War of 1870-71, more particularly with respect to 
the second part of that great struggle the so-called 
" People's War " which followed the crash of Sedan 
and the downfall of the Second French Empire. If 
I have incorporated this historical matter in my book, 
it is because I have repeatedly noticed in these later 
years that, whilst English people are conversant with 
the main facts of the Sedan disaster and such 
subsequent outstanding events as the siege of Paris 
and the capitulation of Metz, they usually know very 
little about the manner in which the war generally 
was carried on by the French under the virtual 
dictatorship of Gambetta. Should England ever be 
invaded by a large hostile force, we, with our very 
limited regular army, should probably be obliged to 
rely largely on elements similar to those which were 
called to the field by the French National Defence 
Government of 1870 after the regular armies of the 
Empire had been either crushed at Sedan or closely 
invested at Metz. For that reason I have always 
taken a keen interest in our Territorial Force, well 
realizing what heavy responsibilities would fall upon 
it if a powerful enemy should obtain a footing in this 


country. Some indication of those responsibilities 
will be found in the present book. 

Generally speaking, however, I have given only 
a sketch of the latter part of the Franco- German 
War. To have entered into details on an infinity 
of matters would have necessitated the writing of 
a very much longer work. However, I have supplied, 
I think, a good deal of precise information respecting 
the events which I actually witnessed, and in this 
connexion, perhaps, I may have thrown some useful 
sidelights on the war generally; for many things 
akin to those which I saw, occurred under more or 
less similar circumstances in other parts of France. 

People who are aware that 1 am acquainted with 
the shortcomings of the French in those already 
distant days, and that I have watched, as closely as 
most foreigners can watch, the evolution of the 
French army in these later times, have often asked 
me what, to my thinking, would be the outcome of 
another Franco- German War. For many years I 
fully anticipated another struggle between the two 
Powers, and held myself in readiness to do duty as 
a war-correspondent. I long thought, also, that the 
signal for that struggle would be given by France. 
But I am no longer of that opinion. I fully believe 
that all French statesmen worthy of the name realize 
that it would be suicidal for France to provoke a 
war with her formidable neighbour. And at the 
same time I candidly confess that I do not know 
what some journalists mean by what they call the 
" New France." To my thinking there is no " New 
France " at all. There was as much spirit, as much 
patriotism, in the days of MacMahon, in the days of 
Boulanger, and at other periods, as there is now. 


The only real novelty that I notice in the France of 
to-day is the cultivation of many branches of sport 
and athletic exercise. Of that kind of thing there 
was very little indeed when I was a stripling. But 
granting that young Frenchmen of to-day are more 
athletic, more " fit " than were those of my genera- 
tion, granting, moreover, that the present organization 
and the equipment of the French army are vastly 
superior to what they were in 1870, and also that 
the conditions of warfare have greatly changed, I 
feel that if France were to engage, unaided, in a 
contest with Germany, she would again be worsted, 
and worsted by her own fault. 

She fully knows that she cannot bring into the 
field anything like as many men as Germany ; and 
it is in a vain hope of supplying the deficiency that 
she has lately reverted from a two to a three years' 
system of military service. The latter certainly gives 
her a larger effective for the first contingencies 
of a campaign, but in all other respects it is merely 
a piece of jugglery, for it does not add a single unit 
to the total number of Frenchmen capable of bearing 
arms. The truth is, that during forty years of 
prosperity France has been intent on racial suicide. 
In the whole of that period only some 3,500,000 
inhabitants have been added to her population, which 
is now still under 40 millions ; whereas that of 
Germany has increased by leaps and bounds, and 
stands at about 66 millions. At the present time 
the German birth-rate is certainly falling, but the 
numerical superiority which Germany has acquired 
over France since the war of 1870 is so great that I 
feel it would be impossible for the latter to triumph 
in an encounter unless she should be assisted by 


powerful allies. Bismarck said in 1870 that God 
was on the side of the big battalions ; and those big 
battalions Germany can again supply. I hold, then, 
that no such Franco-German war as the last one can 
again occur. Europe is now virtually divided into 
two camps, each composed of three Powers, all of 
which would be more or less involved in a Franco- 
German struggle. The allies and friends on either 
side are well aware of it, and in their own interests 
are bound to exert a restraining influence which 
makes for the maintenance of peace. We have had 
evidence of this in the limitations imposed on the 
recent Balkan War. 

On the other hand, it is, of course, the unexpected 
which usually happens ; and whilst Europe generally 
remains armed to the teeth, and so many jealousies 
are still rife, no one Power can in prudence desist 
from her armaments. We who are the wealthiest 
nation in Europe spend on our armaments, in 
proportion to our wealth and our population, less 
than any other great Power. Yet some among us 
would have us curtail our expenditure, and thereby 
incur the vulnerability which would tempt a foe. 
Undoubtedly the armaments of the present day are 
great and grievous burdens on the nations, terrible 
impediments to social progress, but they constitute, 
unfortunately, our only real insurance against war, 
justifying yet to-day, after so many long centuries, 
the truth of the ancient Latin adage Si vis pacem, 
para bellum. 

It is, I think, unnecessary for me to comment 
here on the autobiographical part of my book. It 
will, I feel, speak for itself. It treats of days long 
past, and on a few points, perhaps, my memory may 


be slightly defective. In preparing my narrative, 
however, I have constantly referred to my old diaries, 
note-books and early newspaper articles, and have 
done my best to abstain from all exaggeration. 
Whether this story of some of my youthful ex- 
periences and impressions of men and things was 
worth telling or not is a point which I must leave 

my readers to decide. 

E. A. V. 

LONDON, January 1914. 





















The Vizetelly Family My Mother and her Kinsfolk The Illustrated 
Times and its Staff My Unpleasant Disposition Thackeray and 
my First Half -Crown School days at Eastbourne Queen Alexandra 
Garibaldi A few old Plays and Songs Nadar and the " Giant " 
Balloon My Arrival in France My Tutor Brossard Berezowski's 
Attempt on Alexander II My Apprenticeship to Journalism My 
First Article I see some French Celebrities Visits to the Tuileries 
At Compidgne A few Words with Napoleon III. A "Revolu- 
tionary" Beard. 

THIS is an age of " Reminiscences," and although 
I have never played any part in the world's affairs, 
I have witnessed so many notable things and met 
so many notable people during the three-score years 
which I have lately completed, that it is perhaps 
allowable for me to add yet another volume of 
personal recollections to the many which have 
already poured from the press. On starting on an 
undertaking of this kind it is usual, I perceive by 
the many examples around me, to say something 
about one's family and upbringing. There is less 
reason for me to depart from this practice, as in the 
course of the present volume it will often be necessary 
for me to refer to some of my near relations. A few 
years ago a distinguished Italian philosopher and 
author, Angelo de Gubernatis, was good enough to 



include me in a dictionary of writers belonging to 
the Latin races, and stated, in doing so, that the 
Vizetellys were of French origin. That was a rather 
curious mistake on the part of an Italian writer, 
the truth being that the family originated at Ravenna, 
where some members of it held various offices in the 
Middle Ages. Subsequently, after dabbling in a 
conspiracy, some of the Vizzetelli fled to Venice 
and took to glass-making there, until at last Jacopo, 
from whom I am descended, came to England in 
the spacious days of Queen Elizabeth. From that 
time until my own the men of my family invariably 
married English women, so that very little Italian 
blood can flow in my veins. 

Matrimonial alliances are sometimes of more 
than personal interest. One point has particularly 
struck me in regard to those contracted by members 
of my own family, this being the diversity of English 
counties from which the men have derived their 
wives and the women their husbands. References 
to Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, 
Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Berkshire, Bucks, 
Suffolk, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and Devonshire, in 
addition to Middlesex, otherwise London, appear 
in my family papers. We have become connected 
with Johnstons, Burslems, Bartletts, Pitts, Smiths, 
Wards, Covells, Randalls, Finemores, Radfords, 
Hindes, Pollards, Lemprieres, Wakes, Godbolds, 
Ansells, Fennells, Vaughans, Edens, Scotts, and 
Pearces, and I was the very first member of the 
family (subsequent to its arrival in England) to 
take a foreigner as wife, she being the daughter of a 
landowner of Savoy who proceeded from the Tissots 
of Switzerland. My elder brother Edward subse- 
quently married a Burgundian girl named Clerget, 


and my stepbrother Frank chose an American one, 
nee Krehbiel, as his wife, these marriages occurring 
because circumstances led us to live for many years 

Among the first London parishes with which the 
family was connected was St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, 
where my forerunner, the first Henry Vizetelly, was 
buried in 1691, he then being fifty years of age, 
and where my father, the second Henry of the name, 
was baptised soon after his birth in 1820. St. 
Bride's, Fleet Street, was, however, our parish for 
many years, as its registers testify, though in 1781 
my great-grandfather was resident in the parish 
of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, and was elected constable 
thereof. At that date the family name, which 
figures in old English registers under a variety of 
forms Vissitaler, Vissitaly, Visataly, Visitelly, 
Vizetely, etc. was by him spelt Vizzetelly, as is 
shown by documents now in the Guildhall Library ; 
but a few years later he dropped the second z, with 
the idea, perhaps, of giving the name a more English 

This great-grandfather of mine was, like his 
father before him, a printer and a member of the 
Stationers' Company. He was twice married, having 
by his first wife two sons, George and William, 
neither of whom left posterity. The former, I 
believe, died in the service of the Honourable East 
India Company. In June, 1775, however, my 
great-grandfather married Elizabeth, daughter of 
James Hinde, stationer, of Little Moorfields, and 
had by her, first, a daughter Elizabeth, from whom 
some of the Burslems and Godbolds are descended ; 
and, secondly, twins, a boy and a girl, who were 
respectively christened James Henry and Mary 


Mehetabel. The former became my grandfather. 
In August, 1816, he married, at St. Bride's, Martha 
Jane Vaughan, daughter of a stage-coach pro- 
prietor of Chester, and had by her a daughter, who 
died unmarried, and four sons my father, Henry 
Richard, and my uncles James, Frank, and Frederick 
Whitehead Vizetelly. 

Some account of my grandfather is given in my 
father's " Glances Back through Seventy Years," 
and I need not add to it here. I will only say that, 
like his immediate forerunners, James Henry Vizetelly 
was a printer and freeman of the city. A clever 
versifier, and so able as an amateur actor that on 
certain occasions he replaced Edmund Kean on the 
boards when the latter was hopelessly drunk, he 
died in 1840, leaving his two elder sons, James and 
Henry, to carry on the printing business, which was 
then established in premises occupying the site of 
the Daily Telegraph building in Fleet Street. 

In 1844 my father married Ellen Elizabeth, only 
child of John Pollard, M.D., a member of the ancient 
Yorkshire family of the Pollards of Bierley and 
Brunton, now chiefly represented, I believe, by the 
Pollards of Scarr Hall. John Pollard's wife, Charlotte 
Maria Fennell, belonged to a family which gave 
officers to the British Navy one of them serving 
directly under Nelson and clergy to the Church of 
England. The Fennells were related to the Bronte 
sisters through the latter's mother; and one was 
closely connected with the Shackle who founded 
the original John Bull newspaper. Those, then, 
were my kinsfolk on the maternal side. My mother 
presented my father with seven children, of whom 
I was the sixth, being also the fourth son. I was 
born on November 29, 1853, at a house called 


Chalfont Lodge in Campden House Road, Kensing- 
ton, and well do I remember the great conflagration 
which destroyed the fine old historical mansion 
built by Baptist Hicks, sometime a mercer in 
Cheapside and ultimately Viscount Campden. But 
another scene which has more particularly haunted 
me all through my life was that of my mother's 
sudden death in a saloon carriage of an express 
train on the London and Brighton line. Though 
she was in failing health, nobody thought her end so 
near ; but in the very midst of a journey to London, 
whilst the train was rushing on at full speed, and 
no help could be procured, a sudden weakness 
came over her, and in a few minutes she passed 
away. I was very young at the time, barely five 
years old, yet everything still rises before me with 
all the vividness of an imperishable memory. Again, 
too, I see that beautiful intellectual brow and those 
lustrous eyes, and hear that musical voice, and feel 
the gentle touch of that loving motherly hand. 
She was a woman of attainments, fond of setting 
words to music, speaking perfect French, for she 
had been partly educated at Evreux in Normandy, 
and having no little knowledge of Greek and Latin 
literature, as was shown by her annotations to a 
copy of Lempriere's " Classical Dictionary " which 
is now in my possession. 

About eighteen months after I was born, that 
is in the midst of the Crimean War, my father 
founded, in conjunction with David Bogue, a well- 
known publisher of the time, a journal called the 
Illustrated Times, which for several years competed 
successfully with the Illustrated London News. It 
was issued at threepence per 'copy, and an old 
memorandum of the printers now lying before me 


shows that in the paper's earlier years the average 
printings were 130,000 copies weekly a notable 
figure for that period, and one which was consider- 
ably exceeded when any really important event 
occurred. My father was the chief editor and 
manager, his leading coadjutor being Frederick 
Greenwood, who afterwards founded the Pall Mall 
Gazette. I do not think that Greenwood's connec- 
tion with the Illustrated Times and with my father's 
other journal, the Welcome Guest, is mentioned in 
any of the accounts of his career. The literary 
staff included four of the Brothers Mayhew Henry, 
Jules, Horace, and Augustus, two of whom, Jules 
and Horace, became godfathers to my father's first 
children by his second wife. Then there were also 
William and Robert Brough, Edmund Yates, George 
Augustus Sala, Hain Friswell, W. B. Rands, Tom 
Robertson, Sutherland Edwards, James Hannay, 
Edward Draper, and Hale White (father of " Mark 
Rutherford "), and several artists and engravers, such 
as Birket Foster, "Phiz." Portch, Andrews, Duncan, 
Skelton, Bennett, McConnell, Linton, Loudon, and 
Horace Harrall. I saw all those men in my early 
years, for my father was very hospitably inclined, 
and they were often guests at Chalf ont Lodge. 

After my mother's death, my grandmother, nee 
Vaughan, took charge of the establishment, and I 
soon became the terror of the house, developing a 
most violent temper and acquiring the vocabulary 
of the roughest market porter. My wilfulness was 
probably innate (nearly all the Vizetellys having 
had impulsive wills of their own), and my flowery 
language was picked up by perversely loitering to 
listen whenever there happened to be a street row 
in Church Lane, which I had to cross on my way 


to or from Kensington Gardens, my daily place of 
resort. At an early age I started bullying my 
younger brother, I defied my grandmother, insulted 
the family doctor because he was too fond of pre- 
scribing grey powders for my particular benefit, 
and behaved abominably to the excellent Miss 
Lindup of Sheffield Terrace, who endeavoured to 
instruct me in the rudiments of reading, writing, and 
arithmetic. I frequently astonished or appalled the 
literary men and artists who were my father's 
guests. I hated being continually asked what I 
should like to be when I grew up, and the slightest 
chaff threw me into a perfect paroxysm of passion. 
Whilst, however, I was resentful of the authority of 
others, I was greatly inclined to exercise authority 
myself to such a degree, indeed, that my father's 
servants generally spoke of me as " the young 
master," regardless of the existence of my elder 

Having already a retentive memory, I was set 
to learn sundry " recitations," and every now and 
then was called upon to emerge from behind the 
dining-room curtains and repeat " My Name is 
Norval " or " The Spanish Armada," for the delecta- 
tion of my father's friends whilst they lingered over 
their wine. Disaster generally ensued, provoked 
either by some genial chaff or well-meant criticism 
from such men as Sala and Augustus Mayhew, and 
I was ultimately carried off whilst venting in- 
coherent protests to be soundly castigated and 
put to bed. 

Among the real celebrities who occasionally 
called at Chalfont Lodge was Thackeray, whom I 
can still picture sitting on one side of the fireplace, 
whilst my father sat on the other, I being installed 


on the hearthrug between them. Provided that I 
was left to myself, I could behave decently enough, 
discreetly preserving silence, and, indeed, listening 
intently to the conversation of my father's friends, 
and thereby picking up a very odd mixture of know- 
ledge. I was, I believe, a pale little chap with 
lank fair hair and a wistful face, and no casual 
observer would have imagined that my nature was 
largely compounded of such elements as enter into 
the composition of Italian brigands, Scandinavian 
pirates, and wild Welshmen. Thackeray, at all 
events, did not appear to think badly of the little 
boy who sat so quietly at his feet. One day, indeed, 
when he came upon me and my younger brother 
Arthur, with our devoted attendant Selina Horrocks, 
in Kensington Gardens, he put into practice his 
own dictum that one could never see a schoolboy 
without feeling an impulse to dip one's hand in 
one's pocket. Accordingly he presented me with 
the first half-crown I ever possessed, for though my 
father's gifts were frequent they were small. It was 
understood, I believe, that I was to share the afore- 
said half-crown with my brother Arthur, but in 
spite of the many remonstrances of the faithful 
Selina a worthy West-country woman, who had 
largely taken my mother's place I appropriated 
the gift in its entirety, and became extremely ill 
by reason of my many indiscreet purchases at a 
tuck-stall which stood, if I remember rightly, at a 
corner of the then renowned Kensington Flower 
Walk. This incident must have occurred late in 
Thackeray's life. My childish recollection of him 
is that of a very big gentleman with beaming eyes. 
My grandmother's reign in my father's house 
was not of great duration, as in February, 1861, he 


contracted a second marriage, taking on this occa- 
sion as his wife a " fair maid of Kent," * to whose 
entry into our home I was at first violently opposed, 
but who promptly won me over by her unremitting 
affection and kindness, eventually becoming the 
best and truest friend of my youth and early man- 
hood. My circumstances changed, however, soon 
after that marriage, for as I was now nearly eight 
years old it was deemed appropriate that I should 
be sent to a boarding-school, both by way of im- 
proving my mind and of having some nonsense 
knocked out of me, which, indeed, was promptly 
accomplished by the pugnacious kindness of my 
schoolfellows. Among the latter was one, my 
senior by a few years, who became a very distinguished 
journalist. I refer to the late Horace Voules, so 
long associated with Labouchere's journal, Truth. 
My brother Edward was also at the same school, 
and my brother Arthur came there a little later. 

It was situated at Eastbourne, and a good deal 
has been written about it in recent works on the 
history of that well-known watering-place, which, 
when I was first sent there, counted less than 6000 
inhabitants. Located in the old town or village, 
at a distance of a mile or more from the sea, the 
school occupied a building called " The Gables," 
and was an offshoot of a former ancient school 
connected with the famous parish church. In my 
time this " academy " was carried on as a private 
venture by a certain James Anthony Bown, a portly 
old gentleman of considerable attainments. 

I was unusually precocious in some respects, and 

* Elizabeth Anne Ansell, of Broadstairs ; mother of my step-brother, 
Dr. Frank H. Vizetelly, editor of the "Standard Dictionary," New 


though I frequently got into scrapes by playing 
impish tricks as, for instance, when I combined 
with others to secure an obnoxious French master 
to his chair by means of some cobbler's wax, thereby 
ruining a beautiful pair of peg-top trousers which 
he had just purchased I did not neglect my lessons, 
but secured a number of " prizes " with considerable 
facility. When I was barely twelve years old, not 
one of my schoolfellows and some were sixteen 
and seventeen years old could compete with me 
in Latin, in which language Bown ended by taking 
me separately. I also won three or four prizes 
for " excelling " my successive classes in English 
grammar as prescribed by the celebrated Lindley 

In spite of my misdeeds (some of which, fortu- 
nately, were never brought home to me), I became, 
I think, somewhat of a favourite with the worthy 
James Anthony, for he lent me interesting books 
to read, occasionally had me to supper in his own 
quarters, and was now and then good enough to 
overlook the swollen state of my nose or the black- 
ness of one of my eyes when I had been having a 
bout with a schoolfellow or a young clodhopper of 
the village. We usually fought with the village lads 
in Love Lane on Sunday evenings, after getting 
over the playground wall. I received firstly the 
nickname of Moses, through falling among some 
rushes whilst fielding a ball at cricket ; and secondly, 
that of Noses, because my nasal organ, like that of 
Cyrano de Bergerac, suddenly grew to huge pro- 
portions, in such wise that it embodied sufficient 
material for two noses of ordinary dimensions. 
Its size was largely responsible for my defeats when 
fighting, for I found it difficult to keep guard over 


such a prominent organ and prevent my claret from 
being tapped. 

Having generations of printers' ink mingled with 
my blood, I could not escape the unkind fate which 
made me a writer of articles and books. In con- 
junction with a chum named Clement Ireland I 
ran a manuscript school journal, which included 
stories of pirates and highwaymen, illustrated with 
lurid designs in which red ink was plentifully em- 
ployed in order to picture the gore which flowed 
so freely through the various tales. My grandmother 
Vaughan was an inveterate reader of the London 
Journal and the Family Herald, and whenever I 
went home for my holidays I used to pounce upon 
those journals and devour some of the stories of 
the author of " Minnegrey," as well as Miss Braddon's 
" Aurora Floyd " and " Henry Dunbar." The pe- 
rusal of books by Ainsworth, Scott, Lever, Marryat, 
James Grant, G. P. R. James, Dumas, and Whyte 
Melville gave me additional material for story- 
telling ; and so, concocting wonderful blends of all 
sorts of fiction, I spun many a yarn to my school- 
fellows in the dormitory in which I slept yarns 
which were sometimes supplied in instalments, being 
kept up for a week or longer. 

My summer holidays were usually spent in the 
country, but at other times I went to London, and 
was treated to interesting sights. At Kensington, 
in my earlier years, I often saw Queen Victoria and 
the Prince Consort with their children, notably the 
Princess Royal (Empress Frederick) and the Prince 
of Wales (Edward VII). When the last-named 
married the " Sea-King's daughter from over the 
sea " since then our admired and gracious Queen 
Alexandra and they drove together through the 


crowded streets of London on their way to Windsor, 
I came specially from Eastbourne to witness that 
triumphal progress, and even now I can picture the 
young prince with his round chubby face and little 
side-whiskers, and the vision of almost tearfully- 
smiling beauty, in blue and white, which swept 
past my eager boyish eyes. 

During the Easter holidays of 1864 Garibaldi 
came to England. My uncle, Frank Vizetelly, was 
the chief war-artist of that period, the predecessor, 
in fact, of the late Melton Prior. He knew Garibaldi 
well, having first met him during the war of 1859, 
and having subsequently accompanied him during 
his campaign through Sicily and then on to Naples 
afterwards, moreover, staying with him at Caprera. 
And so my uncle carried me and his son, my cousin 
Albert, to Stafford House (where he had the entree), 
and the grave-looking Liberator patted us on the 
head, called us his children, and at Frank Vizetelly's 
request gave us photographs of himself. I then 
little imagined that I should next see him in France, 
at the close of the war with Germany, during a part 
of which my brother Edward acted as one of his 
orderly officers. 

My father, being at the head of a prominent 
London newspaper, often received tickets for one 
and another theatre. Thus, during my winter 
holidays, I saw many of the old pantomimes at 
Drury Lane and elsewhere. I also well remember 
Sothern's "Lord Dundreary," and a play called 
' The Duke's Motto," which was based on Paul 
Feval's novel, " Le Bossu." I frequently witnessed 
the entertainments given by the German Reeds, 
Corney Grain, and Woodin, the clever quick-change 
artist. I likewise remember Leotard the acrobat 


at the Alhambra, and sundry performances at the 
old Pantheon, where I heard such popular songs as 
"The Captain with the Whiskers" and "The 
Charming Young Widow I met in the Train." 
Nigger ditties were often the " rage " during my 
boyhood, and some of them, like " Dixie-land " and 
" So Early in the Morning," still linger in my memory. 
Then, too, there were such songs as " Billy Taylor," 
" I'm Afloat," " I'll hang my Harp on a WiUow Tree," 
and an inane composition which contained the 

" When a lady elopes 
Down a ladder of ropes, 
She may go, she may go, 
She may go to Hongkong for me ! " 

In those schoolboy days of mine, however, the 
song of songs, to my thinking, was one which we 
invariably sang on breaking up for the holidays. 
Whether it was peculiar to Eastbourne or had been 
derived from some other school I cannot say. I only 
know that the last verse ran, approximately, as 
follows : 

" Magistrorum is a borum, 

Hic-haec-hoc has made his bow. 
Let us cry ; ' cockalorum ! ' 

That's the Latin for us now. 
Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, 

Off to Greece, for we are free ! 
Helter, skelter, melter, pelter, 

We're the lads for mirth and spree ! " 

For " cockalorum," be it noted, we frequently 
substituted the name of some particularly obnoxious 

To return to the interesting sights of my boyhood, 
I have some recollection of the Exhibition of 1862, 
but can recall more vividly a visit to the Crystal 
Palace towards the end of the following year, when 


I there saw the strange house-like car of the " Giant " 
balloon in which Nadar, the photographer and 
aeronaut, had lately made, with his wife and others, 
a memorable and disastrous aerial voyage. Readers 
of Jules Verne will remember that Nadar figures 
conspicuously in his " Journey to the Moon." 
Quite a party of us went to the Palace to see the 
" Giant's " car, and Nadar, standing over six feet 
high, with a great tangled mane of frizzy flaxen 
hair, a ruddy moustache, and a red shirt d la Gari- 
baldi, took us inside it and showed us all the accom- 
modation it contained for eating, sleeping and 
photographic purposes. I could not follow what 
he said, for I then knew only a few French words, 
and I certainly had no idea that I should one day 
ascend into the air with him in a car of a very 
different type, that of the captive balloon which, 
for purposes of military observation, he installed 
on the Place Saint Pierre at Montmartre, during the 
German siege of Paris. 

A time came when my father disposed of his 
interest in the Illustrated Times and repaired to 
Paris to take up the position of Continental repre- 
sentative of the Illustrated London News. My 
brother Edward, at that time a student at the 
fecole des Beaux Arts, then became his assistant, 
and a little later I was taken across the Channel with 
my brother Arthur to join the rest of the family. 
We lived, first, at Auteuil, and then at Passy, where 
I was placed in a day-school called the Institution 
Nouissel, where lads were prepared for admission 
to the State or municipal colleges. There had been 
some attempt to teach me French at Eastbourne, 
but it had met with little success, partly, I think, 
because I was prejudiced against the French generally, 


regarding them as a mere race of frog-eaters whom 
we had deservedly whacked at Waterloo. Eventu- 
ally my prejudices were in a measure overcome by 
what I heard from our drill-master, a retired non- 
commissioned officer, who had served in the Crimea, 
and who told us some rousing anecdotes about the 
gallantry of " our allies " at the Alma and elsewhere. 
In the result, the old sergeant's converse gave me 
" furiously to think " that there might be some good 
in the French after all. 

At Nouissel's I acquired some knowledge of the 
language rapidly enough, and I was afterwards 
placed in the charge of a tutor, a clever scamp named 
Brossard, who prepared me for the Lycee Bonaparte 
(now Condorcet), where I eventually became a pupil, 
Brossard still continuing to coach me with a view to 
my passing various examinations, and ultimately 
securing the usual baccalaureat, without which 
nobody could then be anything at all in France. In 
the same way he coached Evelyn Jerrold, son of 
Blanchard and grandson of Douglas Jerrold, both of 
whom were on terms of close friendship with the 
Vizetellys. But while Brossard was a clever man, 
he was also an unprincipled one, and although I was 
afterwards indebted to him for an introduction to 
old General Changarnier, to whom he was related, 
it would doubtless have been all the better if he had 
not introduced me to some other people with whom 
he was connected. He lived for a while with a woman 
who was not his wife, and deserted her for a girl of 
eighteen, whom he also abandoned, in order to 
devote himself to a creature in fleshings who rode a 
bare-backed steed at the Cirque de Flmperatrice. 
When I was first introduced to her " behind the 
scenes," she was bestriding a chair, and smoking a 


pink cigarette, and she addressed me as mon petit. 
Briefly, the moral atmosphere of Brossard's life 
was not such as befitted him to be a mentor 
of youth. 

Let me now go back a little. At the time of the 
great Paris Exhibition of 1867 I was in my fourteenth 
year. The city was then crowded with royalties, 
many of whom I saw on one or another occasion. 
I was in the Bois de Boulogne with my father when, 
after a great review, a shot was fired at the carriage 
in which Napoleon III and his guest, Alexander II 
of Russia, were seated side by side. I saw equerry 
Raimbeaux gallop forward to screen the two 
monarchs, and I saw the culprit seized by a sergeant 
of our Royal Engineers, attached to the British 
section of the Exhibition. Both sovereigns stood up 
in the carriage to show that they were uninjured, 
and it was afterwards reported that the Emperor 
Napoleon said to the Emperor Alexander : "If that 
shot was fired by an Italian it was meant for me ; 
if by a Pole, it was meant for your Majesty." 
Whether those words were really spoken, or were 
afterwards invented, as such things often are, by 
some clever journalist, I cannot say ; but the man 
proved to be a Pole named Berezowski, who was 
subsequently sentenced to transportation for life. 

It was in connection with this attempt on the 
Czar that I did my first little bit of journalistic work. 
By my father's directions, I took a few notes and made 
a hasty little sketch of the surroundings. This and 
my explanations enabled M. Jules Pelcoq, an artist 
of Belgian birth, whom my father largely employed 
on behalf of the Illustrated London News, to make 
a drawing which appeared on the first page of that 
journal's next issue. I do not think that any other 


paper in the world was able to supply a pictorial 
representation of Berezowski's attempt. 

I have said enough, I think, to show that I was 
a precocious lad, perhaps, indeed, a great deal too 
precocious. However, I worked very hard in those 
days. My hours at Bonaparte were from ten to 
twelve and from two to four. I had also to prepare 
home-lessons for the Lycee, take special lessons from 
Brossard, and again lessons in German from a 
tutor named With. Then, too, my brother Edward 
ceasing to act as my father's assistant in order to 
devote himself to journalism on his own account, I 
had to take over a part of his duties. One of my 
cousins, Montague Vizetelly (son of my uncle James, 
who was the head of our family), came from England, 
however, to assist my father in the more serious 
work, such as I, by reason of my youth, could not 
yet perform. My spare time was spent largely in 
taking instructions to artists or fetching drawings 
from them. At one moment I might be at Mont- 
martre, and at another in the Quartier Latin, calling 
on Pelcoq, Anastasi, Janet Lange, Gustave Janet, 
Pauquet, Thorigny, Gaildrau, Deroy, Bocourt, Dar- 
jou, Lix, Moulin, Fichot, Blanchard, or other artists 
who worked for the Illustrated London News. 
Occasionally a sketch was posted to England, but 
more frequently I had to despatch some drawing 
on wood by rail. Though I have never been any- 
thing but an amateurish draughtsman myself, I 
certainly developed a critical faculty, and acquired 
a knowledge of different artistic methods, during my 
intercourse with so many of the dessinateurs of the 
last years of the Second Empire. 

By-and-by more serious duties were allotted to 
me. The " Paris Fashions " design then appearing 



every month in the Illustrated London News was 
for a time prepared according to certain dresses which 
Worth and other famous costumiers made for em- 
presses, queens, princesses, great ladies, and theatrical 
celebrities ; and, accompanying Pelcoq or Janet 
when they went to sketch those gowns (nowadays 
one would simply obtain photographs), I took down 
from la premiere, or sometimes from Worth himself, 
full particulars respecting materials and styles, in 
order that the descriptive letterpress, which was to 
accompany the illustration, might be correct. 

In this wise I served my apprenticeship to 
journalism. My father naturally revised my work. 
The first article, all my own, which appeared in 
print was one on that notorious theatrical institution, 
the Claque. I sent it to Once a Week, which 
E. S. Dallas then edited, and knowing that he was 
well acquainted with my father, and feeling very 
diffident respecting the merits of what I had written, 
I assumed a nom de plume (" Charles Ludhurst ") 
for the occasion. Needless to say that I was 
delighted when I saw the article in print, and yet 
more so when I received for it a couple of guineas, 
which I speedily expended on gloves, neckties, and 
a walking-stick. Here let me say that we were 
rather swagger young fellows at Bonaparte. We 
did not have to wear hideous ill-fitting uniforms 
like other Lyceens, but endeavoured to present a 
very smart appearance. Thus we made it a practice 
to wear gloves and to carry walking-sticks or canes 
on our way to or from the Lycee. I even improved 
on that by buying " button-holes " at the flower- 
market beside the Madeleine, and this idea " catching 
on," as the phrase goes, quite a commotion occurred 
one morning when virtually half my classmates 


were found wearing flowers for it happened to be 
La Saint Henri, the fete-day of the Count de Cham- 
bord, and both our Proviseur and our professor 
imagined that this was, on our part, a seditious 
Legitimist demonstration. There were, however, 
very few Legitimists among us, though Orleanists^and 
Republicans were numerous. 

I have mentioned that my first article was on 
the Claque, that organisation established to encourage 
applause in theatres, it being held that the Parisian 
spectator required to be roused by some such method. 
Brossard having introduced me to the sous-chef of 
the Claque at the Opera Comique, I often obtained 
admission to that house as a claqueur. I even went 
to a few other theatres in the same capacity. Further, 
Brossard knew sundry authors and journalists, and 
took me to the Cafe de Suede and the Cafe de 
Madrid, where I saw and heard some of the 
celebrities of the day. I can still picture the great 
Dumas, loud of voice and exuberant in gesture 
whilst holding forth to a band of young " spongers," 
on whom he was spending his last napoleons. I can 
also see Gambetta young, slim, black-haired and 
bearded, with a full sensual underlip seated at the 
same table as Delescluze, whose hair and beard, 
once red, had become a dingy white, whose figure 
was emaciated and angular, and whose yellowish, 
wrinkled face seemed to betoken that he was possessed 
by some fixed idea. What that idea was, the 
Commune subsequently showed. Again, I can see 
Henri Eochef ort and Gustave Flourens together : 
the former straight and sinewy, with a great tuft of 
very dark curly hair, flashing eyes and high and 
prominent cheekbones ; while the latter, tall and 
bald, with long moustaches and a flowing beard, 


gazed at you in an eager imperious way, as if he were 
about to issue some command. 

Other men who helped to overthrow the Empire 
also became known to me. My father, whilst 
engaged in some costly litigation respecting a large 
castellated house which he had leased at Le Vesinet, 
secured Jules Favre as his advocate, and on various 
occasions I went with him to Favre's residence. 
Here let me say that my father, in spite of all his 
interest in French literature, did not know the 
language. He could scarcely express himself in it, 
and thus he always made it a practice to have one of 
his sons with him, we having inherited our mother's 
linguistic gifts. Favre's command of language was 
great, but his eloquence was by no means rousing, 
and I well remember that when he pleaded for my 
father, the three judges of the Appeal Court composed 
themselves to sleep, and did not awaken until the 
counsel opposed to us started banging his fist and 
shouting in thunderous tones. Naturally enough, 
as the judges never heard our side of the case, but 
only our adversary's, they decided against us. 

Some retrenchment then became necessary on 
my father's part, and he sent my step-mother, her 
children and my brother Arthur, to Saint Servan in 
Brittany, where he rented a house which was called 
" La petite Amelia," after George Ill's daughter of 
that name, who, during some interval of peace 
between France and Great Britain, went to stay 
at Saint Servan for the benefit of her health. The 
majority of our family having repaired there and my 
cousin Monty returning to England some time in 
1869, I remained alone with my father in Paris. 
We resided in what I may call a bachelor's flat at 
No. 16, Rue de Miromesnil, near the Elysee Palace. 


The principal part of the house was occupied by the 
Count and Countess de Chateaubriand and their 
daughters. The Countess was good enough to take 
some notice of me, and subsequently, when she 
departed for Combourg at the approach of the German 
siege, she gave me full permission to make use, if 
necessary, of the coals and wood left in the Chateau- 
briand cellars. 

In 1869, the date I have now reached, I was in 
my sixteenth year, still studying, and at the same 
time giving more and more assistance to my father 
in connection with his journalistic work. He has 
included in his " Glances Back " some account of 
the facilities which enabled him to secure adequate 
pictorial delineation of the Court life of the Empire. 
He has told the story of Moulin, the police-agent, 
who frequently watched over the Emperor's personal 
safety, and who also supplied sketches of Court 
functions for the use of the Illustrated London News. 
Napoleon III resembled his great-uncle in at least 
one respect. He fully understood the art of advertise- 
ment ; and, in his desire to be thought well of in 
England, he was always ready to favour English 
journalists. Whilst a certain part of the London 
Press preserved throughout the reign a very critical 
attitude towards the Imperial policy, it is certain 
that some of the Paris correspondents were in close 
touch with the Emperor's Government, and that 
some of them were actually subsidized by it. 

The best-informed man with respect to Court 
and social events was undoubtedly Mr. Felix White- 
hurst of The Daily Telegraph, whom I well remember. 
He had the entree at the Tuileries and elsewhere, 
and there were occasions when very important infor- 
mation was imparted to him with a view to its early 


publication in London. For the most part, however, 
Whitehurst confined himself to chronicling events 
or incidents occurring at Court or in Bonapartist 
high society. Anxious to avoid giving offence, he 
usually glossed over any scandal that occurred, or 
dismissed it airily, with the desinvolture of a roue of 
the Regency. Withal, he was an extremely amiable 
man, very condescending towards me when we met, 
as sometimes happened at the Tuileries itself. 

I had to go there on several occasions to meet 
Moulin, the detective-artist, by appointment, and a 
few years ago this helped me to write a book which 
has been more than once reprinted.* I utilized in 
it many notes made by me in 1869-70, notably with 
respect to the Emperor and Empress's private 
apartments, the kitchens, and the arrangements 
made for balls and banquets. I am not aware at 
what age a young fellow is usually provided with 
his first dress-suit, but I know that mine was made 
about the time I speak of. I was then, I suppose, 
about five feet five inches in height, and my face led 
people to suppose that I was eighteen or nineteen 
years of age. 

In the autumn of 1869, I fell rather ill from 
over-study I had already begun to read up Roman 
law and, on securing a holiday, I accompanied 
my father to Compiegne, where the Imperial Court 
was then staying. We were not among the invited 
guests, but it had been arranged that every facility 

* The work in question was entitled " The Court of the Tuileries, 
1852-1870," by " Le Petit Homme Rouge " a pseudonym which I have 
since used when producing other books. " The Court of the Tuileries " 
was founded in part on previously published works, on a quantity of 
notes and memoranda made by my father, other relatives, and myself, 
and on some of the private papers of one of my wife's kinsmen, General 
Mollard, who after greatly distinguishing himself at the Tchernaya and 
Magenta, became for a time an aide-de-camp to Napoleon III. 


should be given to the Illustrated London News repre- 
sentatives in order that the Court villegiatura might 
be fully depicted in that journal. I need not 
recapitulate my experiences on this occasion. There 
is an account of our visit in my father's " Glances 
Back," and I inserted many additional particulars 
in my " Court of the Tuileries." I may mention, 
however, that it was at Compiegne that I first 
exchanged a few words with Napoleon III. 

One day, my father being unwell (the weather 
was intensely cold), I proceeded to the chateau * 
accompanied only by our artist, young M. Montbard, 
who was currently known as " Apollo " in the 
Quartier Latin, where he delighted the habitues of 
the Bal Bullier by a style of choregraphy in com- 
parison with which the achievements subsequently 
witnessed at the notorious Moulin Rouge would have 
sunk into insignificance. Montbard had to make 
a couple of drawings on the day I have mentioned, 
and it so happened that, whilst we were going about 
with M. de la Ferriere, the chamberlain on duty, 
Napoleon III suddenly appeared before us. Directly 
I was presented to him he spoke to me in English, 
telling me that he often saw the Illustrated London 
News, and that the illustrations of French life and 
Paris improvements (in which he took so keen an 
interest) were very ably executed. He asked me 
also how long I had been in France, and where I had 
learnt the language. Then, remarking that it was 
near the dejeuner hour, he told M. de la Ferriere to 
see that Montbard and myself were suitably enter- 

I do not think that I had any particular political 

* We slept at the Hotel de la Cloche, but had the entree to the chateau 
at virtually any time. 


opinions at that time. Montbard, however, was 
a Republican in fact, a future Communard and 
I know that he did not appreciate his virtually 
enforced introduction to the so-called " Badingiiet." 
Still, he contrived to be fairly polite, and allowed 
the Emperor to inspect the sketch he was making. 
There was to be a theatrical performance at the 
chateau that evening, and it had already been 
arranged that Montbard should witness it. On 
hearing, however, that it had been impossible to 
provide my father and myself with seats, on account 
of the great demand for admission on the part of 
local magnates and the officers of the garrison, the 
Emperor was good enough to say, after I had ex- 
plained that my father's indisposition would prevent 
him from attending : " Voyons, vous pourrez bien 
trouver une petite place pour ce jeune homme. II 
n'est pas si grand, et je suis sur que cela lui fera 
plaisir." M. de la Ferriere bowed, and thus it came to 
pass that I witnessed the performance after all, being 
seated on a stool behind some extremely beautiful 
women whose white shoulders repeatedly distracted 
my attention from the stage. In regard to Montbard 
there was some little trouble, as M. de la Ferriere 
did not like the appearance of his " revolutionary- 
looking beard," the sight of which, said he, might 
greatly alarm the Empress. Montbard, however, 
indignantly refused to shave it off, and ten months 
later the " revolutionary beards" were predominant, 
the power and the pomp of the Empire having 
been swept away amidst all the disasters of in- 



Napoleon's Plans for a War with Prussia The Garde Mobile and the 
French Army generally Its Armament The " White Blouses " 
and the Paris Riots The Emperor and the Elections of 1869 
The Troppmann and Pierre Bonaparte Affairs Captain the Hon. 
Dennis Bingham The Ollivier Ministry French Campaigning Plans 
Frossard and Bazaine The Negotiations with Archduke Albert 
and Count Vimercati The War forced on by Bismarck I shout 
" A Berlin ! " The Imperial Guard and General Bourbaki My 
Dream of seeing a War My uncle Frank Vizetelly and his Campaigns 
"The Siege of Pekin " Organization of the French Forces The 
Information Service I witness the departure of Napoleon III and 
the Imperial Prince from Saint Cloud. 

THERE was no little agitation in France during the 
years 1868 and 1869. The outcome first of the 
Schleswig-Holstein war, and secondly of the war 
between Prussia and Austria in 1866, had alarmed 
many French politicians. Napoleon III had ex- 
pected some territorial compensation in return for 
his neutrality at those periods, and it is certain that 
Bismarck, as chief Prussian minister, had allowed 
him to suppose that he would be able to indemnify 
himself for his non-intervention in the afore-men- 
tioned contests. After attaining her ends, however, 
Prussia turned an unwilling ear to the French 
Emperor's suggestions, and from that moment a 
Franco-German war became inevitable. Although, 
as I well remember, there was a perfect " rage " for 



Bismarck " this " and Bismarck " that " in Paris 
particularly for the Bismarck colour, a shade of 
Havana brown the Prussian statesman, who had 
so successfully " jockeyed " the Man of Destiny, 
was undoubtedly a well hated and dreaded individual 
among the Parisians, at least among all those who 
thought of the future of Europe. Prussian policy, 
however, was not the only cause of anxiety in France, 
for at the same period the Republican opposition to 
the Imperial authority was steadily gaining strength 
in the great cities, and the political concessions by 
which Napoleon III sought to disarm it only 
emboldened it to make fresh demands. 

In planning a war on Prussia, the Emperor was 
influenced both by national and by dynastic con- 
siderations. The rise of Prussia which had become 
head of the North German Confederation was 
without doubt a menace not only to French ascend- 
ency on the Continent, but also to France's general 
interests. On the other hand, the prestige of the 
Empire having been seriously impaired, in France 
itself, by the diplomatic defeats which Bismarck 
had inflicted on Napoleon, it seemed that only a 
successful war, waged on the Power from which 
France had received those successive rebuffs, could 
restore the aforesaid prestige and ensure the 
duration of the Bonaparte dynasty. 

Even nowadays, in spite of innumerable revela- 
tions, many writers continue to cast all the responsi- 
bility of the Franco-German War on Germany, or, 
to be more precise, on Prussia as represented by 
Bismarck. That, however, is a great error. A trial 
of strength was regarded on both sides as inevitable, 
and both sides contributed to bring it about. 
Bismarck's share in the conflict was to precipitate 


hostilities, selecting for them what he judged to be 
an opportune moment for his country, and thereby 
preventing the Emperor Napoleon from maturing 
his designs. The latter did not intend to declare 
war until early in 1871 ; the Prussian statesman 
brought it about in July, 1870. 

The Emperor really took to the war-path soon 
after 1866. A great military council was assembled, 
and various measures were devised to strengthen 
the army. The principal step was the creation of a 
territorial force called the Garde Mobile, which was 
expected to yield more than half a million men. 
Marshal Niel, who was then Minister of War, 
attempted to carry out this scheme, but was hampered 
by an insufficiency of money. Nowadays, I often 
think of Niel and the Garde Mobile when I read of 
Lord Haldane, Colonel Seely, and our own " terriers." 
It seems to me, at times, as if the clock had gone 
back more than forty years. 

Niel died in August, 1869, leaving his task in 
an extremely unfinished state, and Marshal Le 
Bceuf, who succeeded him, persevered with it in a 
very faint-hearted way. The regular army, however, 
was kept in fair condition, though it was never so 
strong as it appeared to be on paper. There was a 
system in vogue by which a conscript of means 
could avoid service by supplying a remplaqant. 
Originally, he was expected to provide his remplaqant 
himself ; but, ultimately, he only had to pay a sum 
of money to the military authorities, who undertook 
to find a man to take his place. Unfortunately, in 
thousands of instances, over a term of some years, 
the remplaqants were never provided at all. I do 
not suggest that the money was absolutely mis- 
appropriated, but it was diverted to other military 


purposes, and, in the result, there was always a 
considerable shortage in the annual contingent. 

The creature comforts of the men were certainly 
well looked after. My particular chum at Bonaparte 
was the son of a general-officer, and I visited more 
than one barracks or encampment. Without doubt, 
there was always an abundance of good sound food. 
Further, the men were well-armed. All military 
authorities are agreed, I believe, that the Chassepot 
rifle invented in or about 1866 was superior to 
the Dreyse needle-gun, which was in use in the 
Prussian army. Then, too, there was Colonel de 
Reftye's machine-gun or mitrailleuse, in a sense the 
forerunner of the Gatling and the Maxim. It was 
first devised, I think, in 1863, and, according to 
official statements, some three or four years later 
there were more than a score of mitrailleuse batteries. 
With regard to other ordnance, however, that of the 
French was inferior to that of the Germans, as was 
conclusively proved at Sedan and elsewhere. In 
many respects the work of army reform, publicly 
advised by General Trochu in a famous pamphlet, 
and by other officers in reports to the Emperor and 
the Ministry of War, proceeded at a very slow pace, 
being impeded by a variety of considerations. The 
young men of the large towns did not take kindly 
to the idea of serving in the new Garde Mobile. 
Having escaped service in the regular army, by 
drawing exempting " numbers "or by paying for 
remplaqants, they regarded it as very unfair that 
they should be called upon to serve at all, and there 
were serious riots in various parts of France at the 
time of their first enrolment in 1868. Many of them 
failed to realize the necessities of the case. There 
was no great wave of patriotism sweeping through 


the country. The German danger was not yet 
generally apparent. Further, many upholders of 
the Imperial authority shook their heads in depreca- 
tion of this scheme of enrolling and arming so many 
young men, who might suddenly blossom into revolu- 
tionaries and turn their weapons against the powers 
of the day. 

There was great unrest in Paris in 1868, the year 
of Henri Rochefort's famous journal La Lanterne. 
Issue after issue of that bitterly-penned effusion 
was seized and confiscated, and more than once did 
I see vigilant detectives snatch copies from people 
in the streets. In June, 1869, we had general 
elections, accompanied by rioting on the Boulevards. 
It was then that the " White Blouse " legend arose, 
it being alleged that many of the rioters were agents 
provocateurs in the pay of the Prefecture of Police, 
and wore white blouses expressly in order that they 
might be known to the sergents-de-ville and the 
Gardes de Paris who were called upon to quell the 
disturbances. At first thought, it might seem 
ridiculous that any Government should stir up 
rioting for the mere sake of putting it down, but it 
was generally held that the authorities wished some 
disturbances to occur in order, first, that the middle- 
classes might be frightened by the prospect of a 
violent revolution, and thereby induced to vote 
for Government candidates at the elections ; and, 
secondly, that some of the many real Revolutionaries 
might be led to participate in the rioting in such wise 
as to supply a pretext for arresting them. 

I was with my mentor Brossard and my brother 
Edward one night in June when a " Madeleine- 
Bastille " omnibus was overturned on the Boulevard 
Montmartre and two or three newspaper kiosks were 


added to it by way of forming a barricade, the 
purpose of which was by no means clear. The great 
crowd of promenaders seemed to regard the affair as 
capital fun until the police suddenly came up, 
followed by some mounted men of the Garde de 
Paris, whereupon the laughing spectators became 
terrified and suddenly fled for their lives. With my 
companions I gazed on the scene from the entresol 
of the Cafe Mazarin. It was the first affair of the 
kind I had ever witnessed, and for that reason 
impressed itself more vividly on my mind than several 
subsequent and more serious ones. In the twinkling 
of an eye all the little tables set out in front of the 
cafes were deserted, and tragi-comical was the sight 
of the many women with golden chignons scurrying 
away with their alarmed companions, and tripping 
now and again over some fallen chair whilst the pur- 
suing cavalry clattered noisily along the foot-pave- 
ments. A Londoner might form some idea of the 
scene by picturing a charge from Leicester Square 
to Piccadilly Circus at the hour when Coventry Street 
is most thronged with undesirables of both sexes. 

The majority of the White Blouses and their 
friends escaped unhurt, and the police and the 
guards chiefly expended their vigour on the spectators 
of the original disturbance. Whether this had been 
secretly engineered by the authorities for one of the 
purposes I previously indicated, must always remain 
a moot point. In any case it did not incline the 
Parisians to vote for the Government candidates. 
Every deputy returned for the city on that occasion 
was an opponent of the Empire, and in later years 
I was told by an ex-Court official that when Napoleon 
*$came acquainted with the result of the pollings he 
saii> i n reference to the nominees whom he had 


favoured, " Not one ! not a single one ! " The 
ingratitude of the Parisians, as the Emperor styled 
it, was always a thorn in his side ; yet he should have 
remembered that in the past the bulk of the Parisians 
had seldom, if ever, been on the side of constituted 

Later that year came the famous affair of the 
Pantin crimes, and I was present with my father 
when Troppmann, the brutish murderer of the 
Kinck family, stood his trial at the Assizes. But, 
quite properly, my father would not let me accom- 
pany him when he attended the miscreant's execution 
outside the prison of La Roquette. Some years 
later, however, I witnessed the execution of Prevost * 
on the same spot ; and at a subsequent date I 
attended both the trial and the execution of Caserio 
the assassin of President Carnot at Lyons. Fol- 
lowing Troppmann's case, in the early days of 1870 
came the crime of the so-called Wild Boar of Corsica, 
Prince Pierre Bonaparte (grandfather of the present 
Princess George of Greece), who shot the young 
journalist Victor Noir, when the latter went with 
Ulrich de Fonvielle, aeronaut as well as journalist, 
to call him out on behalf of the irrepressible Henri 
Rochefort. I remember accompanying one of our 
artists, Gaildrau, when a sketch was made of the 
scene of the crime, the Prince's drawing-room at 
Auteuil, a peculiar semi-circular, panelled and white- 
painted apartment furnished in what we should call 
in England a tawdry mid- Victorian style. On the 
occasion of Noir's funeral my father and myself 
were in the Champs Elysees when the tumultuous 
revolutionary procession, in which Rochefort figured 
conspicuously, swept down the famous avenue along 

* See " The Court of the Tuileries," p. 124 at seq. 


which the victorious Germans were to march little 
more than a year afterwards. Near the Rond-point 
the cortege was broken up and scattered by the 
police, whose violence was extreme. Rochefort, 
brave enough on the duelling-ground, fainted away, 
and was carried off in a vehicle, his position as a 
member of the Legislative Body momentarily render- 
ing him immune from arrest. Within a month, 
however, he was under lock and key, and some 
fierce rioting ensued in the north of Paris. 

During the spring, my father went to Ireland as 
special commissioner of the Illustrated London News 
and the Pall Mall Gazette, in order to investigate the 
condition of the tenantry and the agrarian crimes 
which were then so prevalent there. Meantime, I 
was left in Paris, virtually " on my own," though 
I was often with my elder brother Edward. About 
this time, moreover, a friend of my father's began to 
take a good deal of interest in me. This was Captain 
the Hon. Dennis Bingham, a member of the Clan- 
morris family, and the regular correspondent of the 
Pall Mall Gazette in Paris. He subsequently became 
known as the author of various works on the Bona- 
partes and the Bourbons, and of a volume of recol- 
lections of Paris life, in which I am once or twice 
mentioned. Bingham was married to a very charm- 
ing lady of the Lacretelle family, which gave a 
couple of historians to France, and I was always 
received most kindly at their home near the Arc de 
Triomphe. Moreover, Bingham often took me about 
with him in my spare time, and introduced me to 
several prominent people. Later, during the street 
fighting at the close of the Commune in 1871, we had 
some dramatic adventures together, and on one 
occasion Bingham saved my life. 


The earlier months of 1870 went by very swiftly 
amidst a multiplicity of interesting events. Emile 
Ollivier had now become chief Minister, and ail era 
of liberal reforms appeared to have begun. It 
seemed, moreover, as if the Minister's charming wife 
were for her part intent on reforming the practice? 
of her sex in regard to dress, for she resolutely set 
her face against the extravagant toilettes of the ladies 
of the Court, repeatedly appearing at the Tuileries 
in the most unassuming attire, which, however, by 
sheer force of contrast, rendered her very con- 
spicuous there. The patronesses of the great 
couturiers were quite irate at receiving such a 
lesson from a petite bourgeoise; but all who shared 
the views expressed by President Dupin a few years 
previously respecting the " unbridled luxury of 
women," were naturally delighted. 

Her husband's attempts at political reform were 
certainly well meant, but the Republicans regarded 
him as a renegade and the older Imperialists as an 
intruder, and nothing that he did gave satisfaction. 
The concession of the right of public meeting led to 
frequent disorders at Belleville and Montmartre, and 
the increased freedom of the Press only acted as an 
incentive to violence of language. Nevertheless, 
when there came a Plebiscitum the last of the 
reign to ascertain the country's opinion respecting 
the reforms devised by the Emperor and Ollivier, a 
huge majority signified approval of them, and thus 
the " Liberal Empire " seemed to be firmly estab- 
lished. If, however, the nation at large had known 
what was going on behind the scenes, both in diplo- 
matic and in military spheres, the result of the 
Plebiscitum would probably have been very 


Already on the morrow of the war between 
Prussia and Austria (1866) the Emperor, as I pre- 
viously indicated, had begun to devise a plan of 
campaign in regard to the former Power, taking as 
his particular confidants in the matter General 
Lebrun, his aide-de-camp, and General Frossard, the 
governor of the young Imperial Prince. Marshal 
Niel, as War Minister, was cognizant of the Emperor's 
conferences with Lebrun and Frossard, but does not 
appear to have taken any direct part in the plans 
which were devised. They were originally purely 
defensive plans, intended to provide for any invasion 
of French territory from across the Rhine. Colonel 
Baron Stoffel, the French military attache at Berlin, 
had frequently warned the War Office in Paris 
respecting the possibility of a Prussian attack and 
the strength of the Prussian armaments, which, he 
wrote, would enable King William (with the assist- 
ance of the other German rulers) to throw a force of 
nearly a million men into Alsace-Lorraine. Further, 
General Ducrot, who commanded the garrison at 
Strasburg, became acquainted with many things 
which he communicated to his relative, Baron de 
Bourgoing, one of the Emperor's equerries. 

There is no doubt that these various communica- 
tions reached Napoleon III; and though he may 
have regarded both the statements of Stoffel and 
those of Ducrot as exaggerated, he was certainly 
sufficiently impressed by them to order the pre- 
paration of certain plans. Frossard, basing himself 
on the operations of the Austrians in December, 1793, 
and keeping in mind the methods by which Hoche, 
with the Moselle army, and Pichegru, with the 
Rhine army, forced them back from the French 
frontier, drafted a scheme of defence in which he 


foresaw the battle of Worth, but, through following 
erroneous information, greatly miscalculated the 
probable number of combatants. He set forth in 
his scheme that the Imperial Government could not 
possibly allow Alsace-Lorraine and Champagne to 
be invaded without a trial of strength at the very 
outset ; and Marshal Bazaine, who, at some period 
or other, annotated a copy of Frossard's scheme, 
signified his approval of that dictum, but added 
significantly that good tactical measures should be 
adopted. He himself demurred to Frossard's plans, 
saying that he was no partisan of a frontal defence, 
but believed in falling on the enemy's flanks and 
rear. Yet, as we know, MacMahon fought the 
battle of Worth under conditions in many respects 
similar to those which Frossard had foreseen. 

However, the purely defensive plans on which 
Napoleon III at first worked, were replaced in 1868 
by offensive ones, in which General Lebrun took a 
prominent part, both from the military and from the 
diplomatic standpoints. It was not, however, until 
March, 1870, that the Archduke Albert of Austria 
came to Paris to confer with the French Emperor. 
Lebrun's plan of campaign was discussed by them, 
and Marshal Le Bceuf and Generals Frossard and 
Jarras were privy to the negotiations. It was pro- 
posed that France, Austria, and Italy should invade 
Germany conjointly ; and, according to Le Bceuf, 
the first-named Power could place 400,000 men on 
the frontier in a fortnight's time. Both Austria and 
Italy, however, required forty-two days to mobilize 
their forces, though the former offered to provide 
two army corps during the interval. When Lebrun 
subsequently went to Vienna to come to a positive 
decision and arrange details, the Archduke Albert 


pointed out that the war ought to begin in the spring 
season, for, said he, the North Germans would be 
able to support the cold and dampness of a winter 
campaign far better than the allies. That was an 
absolutely correct forecast, fully confirmed by all 
that took place in France during the winter of 1870- 

But Prussia heard of what was brewing. Austria 
was betrayed to her by Hungary ; and Italy and 
France could not come to an understanding on the 
question of Rome. At the outset Prince Napoleon 
(Jerome) was concerned in the latter negotiations, 
which were eventually conducted by Count Vimercati, 
the Italian military attache in Paris. Napoleon, 
however, steadily refused to withdraw his forces 
from the States of the Church and to allow Victor 
Emmanuel to occupy Rome. Had he yielded on 
those points Italy would certainly have joined him, 
and Austria however much Hungarian statesmen 
might have disliked it would, in all probability, 
have followed suit. By the policy he pursued in 
this matter, the French Emperor lost everything, 
and prevented nothing. On the one hand, France 
was defeated and the Empire of the Bonapartes 
collapsed ; whilst, on the other, Rome became Italy's 
true capital. 

Bismarck was in no way inclined to allow the 
negotiations for an anti-Prussian alliance to mature. 
They dragged on for a considerable time, but the 
Government of Napoleon III was not particularly 
disturbed thereat, as it felt certain that victory 
would attend the French arms at the outset, and 
that Italy and Austria would eventually give support. 
Bismarck, however, precipitated events. Already 
in the previous year Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern- 


Sigmaringen had been a candidate for the throne of 
Spain. That candidature had been withdrawn in 
order to avert a conflict between France and 
Germany ; but now it was revived at Bismarck's 
instigation in order to bring about one. 

I have said, I think, enough to show in fairness 
to Germany that the war of 1870 was not an un- 
provoked attack on France. The incidents such 
as the Ems affair which directly led up to it were 
after all only of secondary importance, although they 
bulked so largely at the time of their occurrence. 
I well remember the great excitement which pre- 
vailed in Paris during the few anxious days when 
to the man in the street the question of peace or 
war seemed to be trembling in the balance, though 
in reality that question was already virtually decided 
upon both sides. Judging by all that has been 
revealed to us during the last forty years, I do not 
think that M. Emile Ollivier, the Prime Minister, 
would have been able to modify the decision of the 
fateful council held at Saint Cloud even if he had 
attended it. Possessed by many delusions, the bulk 
of the imperial councillors were too confident of 
success to draw back, and, besides, Bismarck and 
Moltke were not disposed to let France draw back. 
They were ready, and they knew right well that 
opportunity is a fine thing. 

It was on July 15 that the Due de Gramont, the 
Imperial Minister of Foreign Affairs, read his memor- 
able statement to the Legislative Body, and two 
days later a formal declaration of war was signed. 
Paris at once became delirious with enthusiasm, 
though, as we know by all the telegrams from the 
Prefects of the departments, the provinces generally 
desired that peace might be preserved. 


Resident in Paris, and knowing at that time very 
little about the rest of France for I had merely 
stayed during my summer holidays at such seaside 
resorts as Trouville, Deauville, Beuzeval, St. Malo, 
and St. Servan I undoubtedly caught the Parisian 
fever, and I dare say that I sometimes joined in the 
universal chorus of " A Berlin ! " Mere lad as I 
was, in spite of my precocity, I shared also the 
universal confidence in the French army. In that 
confidence many English military men participated. 
Only those who, like Captain Hozier of The Times, had 
closely watched Prussian methods during the Seven 
Weeks' War in 1866, clearly realized that the North 
German kingdom possessed a thoroughly well 
organized fighting machine, led by officers of the 
greatest ability, and capable of effecting something 
like a revolution in the art of war. 

France was currently thought stronger than she 
really was. Of the good physique of her men there 
could be no doubt. Everybody who witnessed the 
great military pageants of those times was impressed 
by the bearing of the troops and their efficiency under 
arms. And nobody anticipated that they would be 
so inferior to the Germans in numbers as proved to 
be the case, and that the generals would show 
themselves so inferior in mental calibre to the com- 
manders of the opposing forces. The Paris garrison, 
it is true, was no real criterion of the French army 
generally, though foreigners were apt to judge the 
latter by what they saw of it in the capital. The 
troops stationed there were mostly picked men, the 
garrison being very largely composed of the Imperial 
Guard. The latter always made a brilliant display, 
not merely by reason of its somewhat showy uniforms, 
recalling at times those of the First Empire, but also 


by the men's fine physique and their general military 
proficiency. They certainly fought well in some of 
the earlier battles of the war. Their commander 
was General Bourbaki, a fine soldierly looking man, 
the grandson of a Greek pilot who acted as inter- 
mediary between Napoleon I and his brother 
Joseph, at the time of the former's expedition to 
Egypt. It was this original Bourbaki who carried 
to Napoleon Joseph's secret letters reporting Jose- 
phine's misconduct in her husband's absence, mis- 
conduct which Napoleon condoned at the time, 
though it would have entitled him to a divorce nine 
years before he decided on one. 

With the spectacle of the Imperial Guard con- 
stantly before their eyes, the Parisians of July, 1870, 
could not believe in the possibility of defeat, and, 
moreover, at the first moment it was not believed 
that the Southern German States would join North 
Germany against France. Napoleon III and his 
confidential advisers well knew, however, what to 
think on that point, and the delusions of the man in 
the street departed when, on July 20, Bavaria, 
Wiirtemberg, Baden, and Hesse-Darmstadt an- 
nounced their intention of supporting Prussia and 
the North German Confederation. Still, this did 
not dismay the Parisians, and the shouts of "To 
Berlin ! To Berlin ! " were as frequent as ever. 

It had long been one of my dreams to see and 
participate in the great drama of war. All boys, I 
suppose, come into the world with pugnacious 
instincts. There must be few, too, who never " play 
at soldiers." My own interest in warfare and 
soldiering had been steadily fanned from my earliest 
childhood. In the first place, I had been incessantly 
confronted by all the scenes of war depicted in the 


Illustrated Times and the Illustrated London News, 
those journals being posted to me regularly every 
week whilst I was still only a little chap at East- 
bourne. Further, the career of my uncle, Frank 
Vizetelly, exercised a strange fascination over me. 
Born in Fleet Street in September, 1830, he was the 
youngest of my father's three brothers. Educated 
with Gustave Dore, he became an artist for the 
illustrated Press, and, in 1859, represented the 
Illustrated Times as war-artist in Italy, being a part 
of the time with the French and at other moments 
with the Sardinian forces. That was the first of his 
many campaigns. His services being afterwards 
secured by the Illustrated London News, he next 
accompanied Garibaldi from Palermo to Naples. 
Then, at the outbreak of the Civil War in the United 
States, he repaired thither with Howard Russell, 
and, on finding obstacles placed in his way on the 
Federal side, travelled " underground " to Richmond 
and joined the Confederates. The late Duke of 
Devonshire, the late Lord Wolseley, and Francis 
Lawley were among his successive companions. At 
one time he and the first-named shared the same 
tent and lent socks and shirts to one another. 

Now and again, however, Frank Vizetelly came 
to England after running the blockade, stayed a few 
weeks in London, and then departed for America 
once more, yet again running the blockade on his 
way. This he did on at least three occasions. His 
next campaign was the war of 1866, when he was 
with the Austrian commander Benedek. For a few 
years afterwards he remained in London assisting 
his eldest brother James to run what was probably 
the first of the society journals, Echoes of the 
Clubs, to which Mortimer Collins and the late Sir 


Edmund Monson largely contributed. However, 
Frank Vizetelly went back to America once again, 
this time with Wolseley on the Red River Expedition. 
Later, he was with Don Carlos in Spain and with 
the French in Tunis, whence he proceeded to Egypt. 
He died on the field of duty, meeting his death when 
Hicks Pasha's little army was annihilated in the 
defiles of Kashgil, in the Soudan. 

Now, in the earlier years, when Frank Vizetelly 
returned from Italy or America, he was often at my 
father's house at Kensington, and I heard him talk 
of Napoleon III, MacMahon, Garibaldi, Victor 
Emmanuel, Cialdini, Robert Lee, Longstreet, Stone- 
wall Jackson, and Captain Semmes. Between-times 
I saw all the engravings prepared after his sketches, 
and I regarded him and them with a kind of childish 
reverence. I can picture him still, a hale, bluff, tall, 
and burly-looking man, with short dark hair, blue 
eyes and a big ruddy moustache. He was far away 
the best known member of our family in my younger 
days, when anonymity in journalism was an almost 
universal rule. In the same way, however, as every- 
body had heard of Howard Russell, the war corre- 
spondent of the Times, so most people had heard of 
Frank Vizetelly, the war-artist of the Illustrated. 
He was, by-the-by, in the service of the Graphic 
when he was killed. 

I well remember being alternately amused and 
disgusted by a French theatrical delineation of an 
English war correspondent, given in a spectacular 
military piece which I witnessed a short time after 
my first arrival in Paris. It was called " The Siege 
of Pekin," and had been concocted by Mocquard, 
the Emperor Napoleon's secretary. All the " comic 
business " in the affair was supplied by a so-called 


war correspondent of the Times, who strutted about 
in a tropical helmet embellished with a green Derby 
veil, and was provided with a portable desk and a 
huge umbrella. This red-nosed and red-whiskered 
individual was for ever talking of having to do this 
and that for " the first paper of the first country in 
the world," and, in order to obtain a better view of 
an engagement, he deliberately planted himself 
between the French and Chinese combatants. I 
should doubtless have derived more amusement 
from his tomfoolery had I not already known that 
English war correspondents did not behave in any 
such idiotic manner, and I came away from the 
performance with strong feelings of resentment 
respecting so outrageous a caricature of a profession 
counting among its members the uncle whom I so 
much admired. 

Whatever my dreams may have been, I hardly 
anticipated that I should join that profession myself 
during the Franco-German war. The Lycees " broke 
up " in confusion, and my father decided to send me 
to join my stepmother and the younger members of 
the family at Saint Servan, it being his intention to 
go to the front with my elder brother Edward. 
But Simpson, the veteran Crimean War artist, came 
over to join the so-called Army of the Rhine, and my 
brother, securing an engagement from the New York 
Times, set out on his own account. Thus I was 
promptly recalled to Paris, where my father had 
decided to remain. In those days the journey from 
Brittany to the capital took many long and wearisome 
hours, and I made it in a third-class carriage of a 
train crowded with soldiers of all arms, cavalry, 
infantry, and artillery. Most of them were in- 
toxicated, and the grossness of their language and 


manners was almost beyond belief. That dreadful 
night spent on the boards of a slowly-moving and 
jolting train,* amidst drunken and foul-mouthed 
companions, gave me, as it were, a glimpse of the 
other side of the picture that is, of several things 
which lie behind the glamour of war. 

It must have been about July 25 when I re- 
turned to Paris. A decree had just been issued 
appointing the Empress as Regent in the absence 
of the Emperor, who was to take command of the 
Army of the Rhine. It had originally been intended 
that there should be three French armies, but during 
the conferences with Archduke Albert in the spring, 
that plan was abandoned in favour of one sole army 
under the command of Napoleon III. The idea 
underlying the change was to avoid a superfluity of 
staff-officers, and to augment the number of actual 
combatants. Both Le Bceuf and Lebrun approved 
of the alteration, and this would seem to indicate 
that there were already misgivings on the French 
side in regard to the inferior strength of their 
effectives. The army was divided into eight sections, 
that is, seven army corps, and the Imperial Guard. 
Bourbaki, as already mentioned, commanded the 
Guard, and at the head of the army corps were (1) 
MacMahoii, (2) Frossard, (3) Bazaine, (4) Ladmerault, 
(5) Failly, (6) Canrobert, and (7) Felix Douay. Both 
Frossard and Failly, however, were at first made 
subordinate to Bazaine. The head of the informa- 
tion service was Colonel Lewal, who rose to be a 
general and Minister of War under the Republic, 
and who wrote some commendable works on tactics ; 
and immediately under him were Lieut. -Colonel 
Fay, also subsequently a well-known general, and 

* There were then no cushioned seats in French third-class carriages. 


Captain Jung, who is best remembered perhaps by 
his inquiries into the mystery of the Man with the 
Iron Mask. I give those names because, however 
distinguished those three men may have become in 
later years, the French intelligence service at the 
outset of the war was without doubt extremely 
faulty, and responsible for some of the disasters 
which occurred. 

On returning to Paris one of my first duties was 
to go in search of Moulin, the detective-artist whom 
I mentioned in my first chapter. I found him in his 
somewhat squalid home in the Quartier Mouffetard, 
surrounded by a tribe of children, and he immediately 
informed me that he was one of the " agents " ap- 
pointed to attend the Emperor on the campaign. 
The somewhat lavish Imperial equipage, on which 
Zola so frequently dilated in " The Downfall," had, 
I think, already been despatched to Metz, where the 
Emperor proposed to fix his headquarters, and the 
escort of Cent Gardes was about to proceed thither. 
Moulin told me, however, that he and two of his 
colleagues were to travel in the same train as 
Napoleon, and it was agreed that he should forward 
either to Paris or to London, as might prove most 
convenient, such sketches as he might from time to 
time contrive to make. He suggested that there 
should be one of the Emperor's departure from 
Saint Cloud, and that in order to avoid delay I should 
accompany him on the occasion and take it from 
him. We therefore went down together on July 28, 
promptly obtained admittance to the chateau, where 
Moulin took certain instructions, and then repaired 
to the railway-siding in the park, whence the Imperial 
train was to start. 

Officers and high officials, nearly all in uniform, 


were constantly going to and fro between the siding 
and the chateau, and presently the Imperial party 
appeared, the Emperor being between the Empress 
and the young Imperial Prince. Quite a crowd of 
dignitaries followed. I do not recollect seeing Emile 
Ollivier, though he must have been present, but I 
took particular note of Rouher, the once all-powerful 
minister, currently nicknamed the Vice-Emperor, 
and later President of the Senate. In spite of his 
portliness, he walked with a most determined stride, 
held his head very erect, and spoke in his customary 
loud voice. The Emperor, who wore the undress 
uniform of a general, looked very grave and sallow. 
The disease which eventually ended in his death 
had already become serious,* and only a few days 
later, that is, during the Saarbrucken affair 
(August 2), he was painfully affected by it. Never- 
theless, he had undertaken to command the Army 
of France ! The Imperial Prince, then fourteen 
years of age, was also in uniform, it having been 
arranged that he should accompany his father to 
the front, and he seemed to be extremely animated 
and restless, repeatedly turning to exchange remarks 
with one or another officer near him. The Empress, 
who was very simply gowned, smiled once or twice in 
response to some words which fell from her husband, 
but for the most part she looked as serious as he did. 
Whatever Emile Ollivier may have said about 
beginning this war with a light heart, it is certain 
that these two sovereigns of France realized, at that 
hour of parting, the magnitude of the issues at stake. 
After they had exchanged a farewell kiss, the Empress 

* I have given many particulars of it in my two books, " The Court of 
the Tuileries, 1852-1870 " (Chatto and Windus), and " Republican France, 
1870-1912 " (Holden and Hardingham). 




her arms and embraced 
took her eager young son i?xt saw her face we could 
him fondly, and when we ning in her eyes. The 
perceive the tears stantfg his seat and the boy 
Emperor was already takhDid the Empress at that 
speedily sprang after him. ^e, and how she would 
moment wonder when, whphance she did. Every- 
next see them again ? Perty in readiness for de- 
thing, however, was speeds to move, both the 
parture. As the train beged their hands from the 
Emperor and the Prince wa^usiastic Imperial digni- 
windows, whilst all the entftnd raised a prolonged 
taries nourished their hats It was not, perhaps, 
cry of "Vive FEmpereur ! "'.; but, then, they were 
so loud as it might have bee:i, during the interval, 
mostly elderly men. Moulding in the nature of a 
had contrived to make some^so taken a few notes 
thumb-nail sketch ; I had fastened back to Paris, 
myself ; and thus provided I . 




First French Defeats A Great Victory rumoured The Marseillaise, 
Capoul and Marie Sass Edward Vizetelly brings News of Forbach 
to Paris Emile OUivier again His Fall from Power Cousin 
Montauban, Comte de Palikao English War Correspondents in Paris 
Gambetta calls me " a Little Spy " More French Defeats Palikao 
and the Defence of Paris Fears of a Siege Wounded returning 
from the Front Wild Reports of French Victories The Quarries 
of Jaumont The Anglo-American Ambulance The News of Sedan 
Sala's Unpleasant Adventure The Fall of the Empire. 

IT was, I think, two days after the Emperor's arrival 
at Metz that the first Germans a detachment of 
Badeners entered French territory. Then, on the 
second of August came the successful French attack 
on Saarbrucken, a petty affair but a well-remembered 
one, as it was on this occasion that the young Imperial 
Prince received the " baptism of fire." Appro- 
priately enough, the troops, whose success he 
witnessed, were commanded by his late governor, 
General Frossard. More important was the engage- 
ment at Weissenburg two days later, when a division 
of the French under General Abel Douay was sur- 
prised by much superior forces, and utterly over- 
whelmed, Douay himself being killed during the 
fighting. Yet another two days elapsed, and then 
the Crown Prince of Prussia later the Emperor 
Frederick routed MacMahon at Worth, in spite of 
a vigorous resistance, carried on the part of the 



French Cuirassiers, under General the Vicomte de 
Bonnemains, to the point of heroism. In later 
days the general's son married a handsome and 
wealthy young lady of the 'bourgeoisie named 
Marguerite Crouzet, whom, however, he had to 
divorce, and who afterwards became notorious as 
the mistress of General Boulanger. 

Curiously enough, on the very day of the disaster 
of Worth a rumour of a great French victory spread 
through Paris. My father had occasion to send me 
to his bankers in the Rue Vivienne, and on making 
my way to the Boulevards, which I proposed to follow, 
I was amazed to see the shopkeepers eagerly setting 
up the tricolour flags which they habitually displayed 
on the Emperor's fete-day (August 15). Nobody 
knew exactly how the rumours of victory had 
originated, nobody could give any precise details 
respecting the alleged great success, but everybody 
believed in it, and the enthusiasm was universal. 
It was about the middle of the day when I repaired 
to the Rue Vivienne, and after transacting my 
business there, I turned into the Place de la Bourse, 
where a huge crowd was assembled. The steps of 
the exchange were also covered with people, and 
amidst a myriad eager gesticulations a perfect babel 
of voices was ascending to the blue sky. One of the 
green omnibuses, which in those days ran from the 
Bourse to Passy, was waiting on the square, un- 
able to depart owing to the density of the crowd ; 
and all at once, amidst a scene of great excitement 
and repeated shouts of "La Marseillaise ! " "La 
Marseillaise ! " three or four well-dressed men climbed 
on to the vehicle, and turning towards the mob of 
speculators and sightseers covering the steps of the 
Bourse, they called to them repeatedly : " Silence ! 


Silence ! " The hubbub slightly subsided, and there- 
upon one of the party on the omnibus, a good-looking 
slim young fellow with a little moustache, took off 
his hat, raised his right arm, and began to sing the 
war-hymn of the Revolution. The stanza finished, 
the whole assembly took up the refrain. 

Since the days of the Coup d'Etat, the Marseillaise 
had been banned in France, the official imperial air 
being " Partant pour la Syrie," a military march com- 
posed by the Emperor's mother, Queen Hortense, 
with words by Count Alexandre de Laborde, who 
therein pictured a handsome young knight praying 
to the Blessed Virgin before his departure for 
Palestine, and soliciting of her benevolence that he 
might " prove to be the bravest brave, and love the 
fairest fair." During the twenty years of the third 
Napoleon's rule, Paris had heard the strains of 
" Partant pour la Syrie" many thousand times, and, 
though they were tuneful enough, had become 
thoroughly tired of them. To stimulate popular en- 
thusiasm in the war the Ollivier Cabinet had accord- 
ingly authorized the playing and singing of the long- 
forbidden " Marseillaise," which, although it was 
well-remembered by the survivors of '48, and was 
hummed even by the young Republicans of Belleville 
and the Quartier Latin, proved quite a novelty to 
half the population, who were destined to hear it 
again and again and again from that period until 
the present time. 

The young vocalist who sang it from the top of 
a Passy-Bourse omnibus on that fateful day of 
Worth, claimed to be a tenor, but was more correctly 
a tenorino, his voice possessing far more sweetness 
than power. He was already well-known and 
popular, for he had taken the part of Romeo in 



Gounod's well-known opera based on the Shake- 
spearean play. Like many another singer, Victor 
Capoul might have become forgotten before very 
long, but a curious circumstance, having nothing to 
do with vocalism, diffused and perpetuated his name. 
He adopted a particular way of dressing his hair, 
" plastering " a part of it down in a kind of semi- 
circle over the forehead ; and the new style " catching 
on " among young Parisians, the " coiffure Capoul " 
eventually went round the world. It is exemplified 
in certain portraits of King George V. 

In those war-days Capoul sang the " Marseillaise " 
either at the Opera Comique or the Theatre Lyrique ; 
but at the Opera it was sung by Marie Sass, then at 
the height of hex reputation. I came in touch with 
her a few years later when she was living in the Paris 
suburbs, and more than once, when we both travelled 
to the city in the same train, I had the honour of 
assisting her to alight from it this being no very 
easy matter, as la Sass was the very fattest and 
heaviest of all the prime donne that I have ever 

On the same day that MacMahon was defeated at 
Worth, Frossard was badly beaten at Forbach, an 
engagement witnessed by my elder brother Edward,* 
who, as I previously mentioned, had gone to the 
front for an American journal. Finding it impossible 
to telegraph the news of this serious French reverse, 
he contrived to make his way to Paris on a loco- 
motive-engine, and arrived at our flat in the Rue de 
Miromesnil looking as black as any coal-heaver. 
When he had handed his account of the affair to 
Ryan, the Paris representative of the New York 

* Born January 1, 1847, and therefore in 1870 in his twenty-fourth 


Times, it was suggested that his information might 
perhaps be useful to the French Minister of War. 
So he hastened to the Ministry, where the news he 
brought put a finishing touch to the dismay of the 
officials, who were already staggering under the 
first news of the disaster of Worth. 

Paris, jubilant over an imaginary victory, was 
enraged by the tidings of Worth and Forbach. 
Already dreading some Revolutionary enterprise, the 
Government declared the city to be in a state of 
siege, thereby placing it under military authority. 
Although additional men had recently been enrolled 
in the National Guard the arming of them had been 
intentionally delayed, precisely from a fear of 
revolutionary troubles, which the entourage of the 
Empress-Regent at Saint Cloud feared from the 
very moment of the first defeats. I recollect witness- 
ing on the Place Vendome one day early in August a 
very tumultuous gathering of National Guards who 
had flocked thither in order to demand weapons of 
the Prime Minister, that is, Emile Ollivier, who in 
addition to the premiership, otherwise the " Presi- 
dency of the Council," held the offices of Keeper of 
the Seals and Minister of Justice, this department 
then having its offices in one of the buildings of the 
Place Vendome. Ollivier responded to the demon- 
stration by appearing on the balcony of his private 
room and delivering a brief speech, which embraced 
a vague promise to comply with the popular demand. 
In point of fact, however, nothing of the kind was 
done during his term of office. 

Whilst writing these lines I hear that this much- 
abused statesman has just passed away at Saint 
Gervais-les-Bains in Upper Savoy (August 20, 1913). 
Born at Marseilles in July, 1825, he lived to complete 


his eighty-eighth year. His second wife (nee Gravier), 
to whom I referred in a previous chapter, survives 
him. I do not wish to be unduly hard on his 
memory. He came, however, of a very Republican 
family, and in his earlier years he personally evinced 
what seemed to be most staunch Republicanism. 
When he was first elected as a member of the Legis- 
lative Body in 1857, he publicly declared that he 
would appear before that essentially Bonapartist 
assembly as one of the spectres of the crime of the 
Coup d'Etat. But subsequently M. de Morny baited 
him with a lucrative appointment connected with 
the Suez Canal. Later still, the Empress smiled on 
him, and finally he took office under the Emperor, 
thereby disgusting nearly every one of his former 
friends and associates. 

I believe, however, that Ollivier was sincerely 
convinced of the possibility of firmly establishing a 
liberal-imperialist regime. But although various 
reforms were carried out under his auspices, it is 
quite certain that he was not allowed a perfectly 
free hand. Nor was he fully taken into confidence 
with respect to the Emperor's secret diplomatic and 
military policy. That was proved by the very 
speech in which he spoke of entering upon the war 
with Prussia " with a light heart " ; for in his 
very next sentences he spoke of that war as being 
absolutely forced upon France, and of himself and 
his colleagues as having done all that was humanly 
and honourably possible to avoid it. Assuredly 
he would not have spoken quite as he did had he 
realized at the time that Bismarck had merely 
forced on the war in order to defeat the Emperor 
Napoleon's intention to invade Germany in the 
ensuing spring. The public provocation on Prussia's 


part was, as I previously showed, merely her reply 
to the secret provocation offered by France, as 
evidenced by all the negotiations with Archduke 
Albert on behalf of Austria, and with Count 
Vimercati on behalf of Italy. On all those matters 
Ollivier was at the utmost but very imperfectly 
informed. Finally, be it remembered that he was 
absent from the Council at Saint Cloud at which war 
was finally decided upon. 

At a very early hour on the morning of Sunday, 
August 7 the day following Worth and Forbach 
the Empress Eugenie came in all haste and sore 
distress from Saint Cloud to the Tuileries. The 
position was very serious, and anxious conferences 
were held by the ministers. When the Legislative 
Body met on the morrow, a number of deputies 
roundly denounced the manner in which the military 
operations were being conducted. One deputy, a 
certain Guyot-Montpeyroux, who was well known 
for the outspokenness of his language, horrified the 
more devoted Imperialists by describing the French 
forces as an army of lions led by jackasses. On the 
following day Ollivier and his colleagues resigned 
office. Their position had become untenable, though 
little if any responsibility attached to them respecting 
the military operations. The Minister of War, 
General Dejean, had been merely a stop-gap, 
appointed to carry out the measures agreed upon 
before his predecessor, Marshal Le Bceuf, had gone 
to the front as Major General of the army. 

It was felt, however, among the Empress's 
entourage that the new Prime Minister ought to be a 
military man of energy, devoted, moreover, to the 
Imperial regime. As the marshals and most of the 
conspicuous generals of the time were already 


serving in the field, it was difficult to find any 
prominent individual possessed of the desired qualifi- 
cations. Finally, however, the Empress was pre- 
vailed upon to telegraph to an officer whom she 
personally disliked, this being General Cousin- 
Montauban, Comte de Palikao. He was certainly, 
and with good reason, devoted to the Empire, and 
in the past he had undoubtedly proved himself to be 
a man of energy. But he was at this date in his 
seventy-fifth year a fact often overlooked by 
historians of the Franco-German war and for that 
very reason, although he had solicited a command 
in the field at the first outbreak of hostilities, it 
had been decided to decline his application, and to 
leave him at Lyons, where he had commanded the 
garrison for five years past. 

Thirty years of Palikao's life had been spent in 
Algeria, contending, during most of that time, 
against the Arabs ; but in 1860 he had been appointed 
commander of the French expedition to China, where 
with a small force he had conducted hostilities 
with the greatest vigour, repeatedly decimating or 
scattering the hordes of Chinamen who were opposed 
to him, and, in conjunction with the English, 
victoriously taking Pekin. A kind of stain rested 
on the expedition by reason of the looting of the 
Chinese Emperor's summer-palace, but the entire 
responsibility of that affair could not be cast on the 
French commander, as he only continued and 
completed what the English began. On his return 
to France, Napoleon III created him Comte de 
Palikao (the name being taken from one of his 
Chinese victories), and in addition wished the Legis- 
lative Body to grant him a dotation. However, the 
summer-palace looting scandal prevented this, much 


to the Emperor's annoyance, and subsequent to the 
fall of the Empire it was discovered that, by 
Napoleon's express orders, the War Ministry had 
paid Palikao a sum of about 60,000, diverting that 
amount of money (in accordance with the practices 
of the time) from the purpose originally assigned to 
it in the Estimates. 

This was not generally known when Palikao 
became Chief Minister. He was then what might 
be called a very well preserved old officer, but his 
lungs had been somewhat affected by a bullet- 
wound of long standing, and this he more than once 
gave as a reason for replying with the greatest brevity 
to interpellations in the Chamber. Moreover, as 
matters went from bad to worse, this same lung 
trouble became a good excuse for preserving absolute 
silence on certain inconvenient occasions. When, 
however, Palikao was willing to speak he often did 
so untruthfully, repeatedly adding the suggestio falsi 
to the suppressio veri. As a matter of fact, he, like 
other fervent partisans of the dynasty, was afraid 
to let the Parisians know the true state of affairs. 
Besides, he himself was often ignorant of it. He took 
office (he was the third War Minister in fifty days) 
without any knowledge whatever of the imperial 
plan of campaign, or the steps to be adopted in the 
event of further French reverses, and a herculean 
task lay before this septuagenarian officer, who 
by experience knew right well how to deal with 
Arabs and Chinamen, but had never had to contend 
with European troops. Nevertheless, he displayed 
zeal and activity in his new semi-political and semi- 
military position. He greatly assisted MacMahon 
to reconstitute his army at Chalons, he planned the 
organization of three more army corps, and he 


started on the work of placing Paris in a state of 
defence, whilst his colleague, Clement Duvernois, the 
new Minister of Commerce, began gathering flocks and 
herds together, in order that the city, if besieged, 
might have the necessary means of subsistence. 

At this time there were quite a number of English 
" war " as well as " own " correspondents in Paris. 
The former had mostly returned from Metz, whither 
they had repaired at the time of the Emperor's 
departure for the front. At the outset it had seemed 
as though the French would allow foreign journalists 
to accompany them on their " promenade to Berlin," 
but, on reverses setting in, all official recognition was 
denied to newspaper men, and, moreover, some of 
the representatives of the London Press had a very 
unpleasant time at Metz, being arrested there as 
spies and subjected to divers indignities. I do not 
remember whether they were ordered back to Paris 
or whether they voluntarily withdrew to the capital 
on their position with the army becoming untenable ; 
but in any case they arrived in the city and lingered 
there for a time, holding daily symposiums at the 
Grand Cafe at the corner of the Rue Scribe, on the 

From time to time I went there with my father, 
and amongst this galaxy of journalistic talent I met 
certain men with whom I had spoken in my childhood. 
One of them, for instance, was George Augustus 
Sala, and another was Henry Mayhew, the famous 
author of " London Labour and the London Poor," 
he being accompanied by his son Athol. Looking 
back, it seems to me that, in spite of all their brilliant 
gifts, neither Sala nor Henry Mayhew was fitted 
to be a correspondent in the field, and they were 
certainly much better placed in Paris than at the 


headquarters of the Army of the Rhine. Among 
the resident correspondents who attended the gather- 
ings at the Grand Cafe were Captain Bingham, 
Blanchard (son of Douglas) Jerrold, and the jaunty 
Bower, who had once been tried for his life and 
acquitted by virtue of the " unwritten law " in 
connection with an affaire passionelle in which he 
was the aggrieved party. For more than forty years 
past, whenever I have seen a bluff looking elderly 
gentleman sporting a buff-waistcoat and a white- 
spotted blue necktie, I have instinctively thought of 
Bower, who wore such a waistcoat and such a 
necktie, with the glossiest of silk hats and most 
shapely of patent-leather boots, throughout the 
siege of Paris, when he was fond of dilating on the 
merits of boiled ostrich and stewed elephant's foot, 
of which expensive dainties he partook at his club, 
after the inmates of the Jardin des Plantes had been 

Bower represented the Morning Advertiser. 
I do not remember seeing Bowes of the Standard at 
the gatherings I have referred to, or Crawford of 
the Daily News, who so long wrote his Paris letters 
at a little cafe fronting the Bourse. But it was 
certainly at the Grand Cafe that I first set eyes on 
Labouchere, who, like Sala, was installed at the 
neighbouring Grand Hotel, and was soon to become 
famous as the Daily News' " Besieged Resident." 
As for Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, who represented 
the Morning Post during the German Siege, I first 
set eyes on him at the British Embassy, when he had 
a beautiful little moustache (which I greatly envied) 
and wore his hair nicely parted down the middle. 
Eheu ! fugaces Idbuntur anni. 

Sala was the life and soul of those gatherings at 


the Grand Cafe, always exuberantly gay, unless 
indeed the conversation turned on the prospects of 
the French forces, when he railed at them without 
ceasing. Blanchard Jerrold, who was well acquainted 
with the spy system of the Empire, repeatedly 
warned Sala to be cautious but in vain ; and the 
eventual result of his outspokenness was a very un- 
pleasant adventure on the eve of the Empire's fall. 
In the presence of all those distinguished men of the 
pen, I myself mostly preserved, as befitted my age, 
a very discreet silence, listening intently, but seldom 
opening my lips unless it were to accept or refuse 
another cup of coffee, or some sirop de groseille or 
grenadine. I never touched any intoxicant excepting 
claret at my meals, and though, in my Eastbourne 
days, I had, like most boys of my time, experimented 
with a clay pipe and some dark shag, I did not smoke. 
My father personally was extremely fond of cigars, 
but had he caught me smoking one, he would, I 
believe, have knocked me down. 

In connection with those Grand Cafe gatherings 
I one day had a little adventure. It had been 
arranged that I should meet my father there, and 
turning into the Boulevards from the Madeleine 
I went slowly past what was then called the Hue 
Basse du Rempart. I was thinking of something or 
other I do not remember what, but in any case 
I was absorbed in thought, and inadvertently I 
dogged the footsteps of two black-coated gentlemen 
who were deep in conversation. I was almost un- 
conscious of their presence, and in any case I did 
not hear a word of what they were saying. But all 
at once one of them turned round, and said to me 
angrily : " Veux-tu bien t'en aller, petit espion ! " 
otherwise : "Be oif, little spy ! " I woke up as it 


were, looked at him, and to my amazement recog- 
nized Gambetta, whom I had seen several times 
already, when I was with my mentor Brossard at 
either the Cafe de Suede or the Cafe de Madrid. At 
the same time, however, his companion also turned 
round, and proved to be Jules Simon, who knew me 
through a son of his. This was fortunate, for he 
immediately exclaimed : " Why, no ! It is young 
Vizetelly, a friend of my son's," adding, " Did you 
wish to speak to me ? v 

I replied in the negative, saying that I had not 
even recognized him from behind, and trying to 
explain that it was purely by chance that I had been 
following him and M. Gambetta. " You know me, 
then ? " exclaimed the future dictator somewhat 
sharply ; whereupon I mentioned that he had been 
pointed out to me more than once, notably when he 
was in the company of M. Delescluze. " Ah, oui, 
fort bien," he answered. " I am sorry if I spoke as 
I did. But " and here he turned to Simon " one 
never knows, one can never take too many pre- 
cautions. The Spaniard would willingly send both 
of us to Mazas." By "the Spaniard," of course, 
he meant the Empress Eugenie, just as people meant 
Marie- Antoinette when they referred to " the 
Austrian " during the first Revolution. That ended 
the affair. They both shook hands with me, I raised 
my hat, and hurried on to the Grand Cafe, leaving 
them to their private conversation. This was the 
first time that I ever exchanged words with Gambetta. 
The incident must have occurred just after his 
return from Switzerland, whither he had repaired fully 
anticipating the triumph of the French arms, return- 
ing, however, directly he heard of the first disasters. 
Simon and he were naturally drawn together by 


their opposition to the Empire, but they were men 
of very different characters, and some six months 
later they were at daggers drawn. 

Events moved rapidly during Palikao's ministry. 
Reviving a former proposition of Jules Favre's, 
Gambetta proposed to the Legislative Body the 
formation of a Committee of National Defence, and 
one was ultimately appointed ; but the only member 
of the Opposition included in it was Thiers. In the 
middle of August there were some revolutionary 
disturbances at La Villette. Then, after the famous 
conference at Chalons, where Rouher, Prince Napoleon, 
and others discussed the situation with the Emperor 
and MacMahon, Trochu was appointed Military 
Governor of Paris, where he soon found himself at 
loggerheads with Palikao. Meantime, the French 
under Bazaine, to whom the Emperor was obliged to 
relinquish the supreme command the Opposition 
deputies particularly insisting on Bazaine's appoint- 
ment in his stead were experiencing reverse after 
reverse. The battle of Courcelles or Pange, on 
August 14, was followed two days later by that of 
Vionville or Mars-la-Tour, and, after yet another 
two days, came the great struggle of Gravelotte, 
and Bazaine was thrown back on Metz. 

At the Chalons conference it had been decided 
that the Emperor should return to Paris and that 
MacMahon's army also should retreat towards the 
capital. But Palikao telegraphed to Napoleon : 
" If you abandon Bazaine there will be Revolution 
in Paris, and you yourself will be attacked by all 
the enemy's forces. Paris will defend herself from 
all assault from outside. The fortifications are 
completed." It has been argued that the plan to 
save Bazaine might have succeeded had it been 


immediately carried into effect, and in accordance, 
too, with Palikao's ideas ; but the original scheme 
was modified, delay ensued, and the French were 
outmarched by the Germans, who came up with 
them at Sedan. As for Palikao's statement that 
the Paris fortifications were completed at the time 
when he despatched his telegram, that was absolutely 
untrue. The armament of the outlying forts had 
scarcely begun, and not a single gun was in position 
on any one of the ninety-five bastions of the ramparts. 
On the other hand, Palikao was certainly doing all 
he could for the city. He had formed the afore- 
mentioned Committee of Defence, and under his 
auspices the fosse or ditch in front of the ramparts 
was carried across the sixty-nine roads leading into 
Paris, whilst drawbridges were installed on all these 
points, with armed lunettes in front of them. Again, 
redoubts were thrown up in advance of some of the 
outlying forts, or on spots where breaks occurred 
in the chain of defensive works. 

At the same time, ships' guns were ordered up 
from Cherbourg, Brest, Lorient, and Toulon, together 
with naval gunners to serve them. Sailors, custom- 
house officers, and provincial gendarmes were also 
conveyed to Paris in considerable numbers. Gardes- 
mobiles, francs-tireurs, and even firemen likewise 
came from the provinces, whilst the work of pro- 
visioning the city proceeded briskly, the Chamber 
never hesitating to vote all the money asked of it. 
At the same time, whilst there were many new 
arrivals in Paris, there were also many departures 
from the city. The general fear of a siege spread 
rapidly. Every day thousands of well-to-do middle- 
class folk went off in order to place themselves out 
of harm's way ; and at the same time thousands of 


foreigners were expelled on the ground that, in the 
event of a siege occurring, they would merely be 
" useless mouths." In contrast with that exodus 
was the great inrush of people from the suburbs of 
Paris. They poured into the city unceasingly, from 
villas, cottages, and farms, employing every variety 
of vehicle to convey their furniture and other house- 
hold goods, their corn, flour, wine, and other produce. 
There was a block at virtually every city gate, so 
many were the folk eager for shelter within the 
protecting ramparts raised at the instigation of 
Thiers some thirty years previously. 

In point of fact, although the Germans were not 
yet really marching on Paris for Bazaine's army 
had to be bottled up, and MacMahon's disposed of, 
before there could be an effective advance on the 
French capital it was imagined in the city and its 
outskirts that the enemy might arrive at any moment. 
The general alarm was intensified when, on the night 
of August 21, a large body of invalided men, who 
had fought at Weissenburg or Worth, made their way 
into Paris, looking battle- and travel-stained, some 
with their heads bandaged, others with their arms 
in slings, and others limping along with the help of 
sticks. It is difficult to conceive by what aberration 
the authorities allowed the Parisians to obtain that 
woeful glimpse of the misfortunes of France. The 
men in question ought never to have been sent to 
Paris at all. They might well have been cared for 
elsewhere. As it happened, the sorry sight affected 
all who beheld it. Some were angered by it, others 
depressed, and others well-nigh terrified. 

As a kind of set-off, however, to that gloomy 
spectacle, fresh rumours of French successes began 
to circulate. There was a report that Bazaine's 


army had annihilated the whole of Prince Frederick- 
Charles's cavalry, and, in particular, there was a 
most sensational account of how three German army- 
corps, including the famous white Cuirassiers to 
which Bismarck belonged, had been tumbled into 
the " Quarries of Jaumont " and there absolutely 
destroyed ! I will not say that there is no locality 
named Jaumont, but I cannot find any such place 
mentioned in Joanne's elaborate dictionary of the 
communes of France, and possibly it was as mythical 
as was the alleged German disaster, the rumours of 
which momentarily revived the spirits of the deluded 
Parisians, who were particularly pleased to think 
that the hated Bismarck's regiment had been 

On or about August 30, a friend of my eldest 
brother Adrian, a medical man named Blewitt, 
arrived in Paris with the object of joining an Anglo- 
American ambulance which was being formed in 
connection with the Red Cross Society. Dr. Blewitt 
spoke a little French, but he was not well acquainted 
with the city, and I was deputed to assist him whilst 
he remained there. An interesting account of the 
doings of the ambulance in question was written 
some sixteen or seventeen years ago by Dr. Charles 
Edward Ryan, of Glenlara, Tipperary, who belonged 
to it. Its head men were Dr. Marion-Sims and 
Dr. Frank, others being Dr. Ryan, as already 
mentioned, and Drs. Blewitt, Webb, May, Nicholl, 
Hay den, Howett, Tilghmann, and last but not least, 
the future Sir William MacCormack. Dr. Blewitt 
had a variety of business to transact with the officials 
of the French Red Cross Society, and I was with him 
at his interviews with its venerable-looking President, 
the Count de Flavigny, and others. It is of interest 


to recall that at the outbreak of the war the society's 
only means was an income of 5 6s. 3d., but that 
by August 28 its receipts had risen to nearly 112,000. 
By October it had expended more than 100,000 in 
organizing thirty-two field ambulances. Its total 
outlay during the war exceeded half a million sterling, 
and in its various field, town, and village ambulances 
no fewer than 110,000 men were succoured and 

In Paris the society's headquarters were estab- 
lished at the Palace de 1'Industrie in the Champs 
Elysees, and among the members of its principal 
committee were several ladies of high rank. I well 
remember seeing there that great leader of fashion, 
the Marquise de Galliffet, whose elaborate ball gowns 
I had more than once admired at Worth's, but who, 
now that misfortune had fallen upon France, was, 
like all her friends, very plainly garbed in black. At 
the Palais de 1'Industrie I also found Mme. de 
MacMahon, short and plump, but full of dignity and 
energy, as became a daughter of the Castries. I 
remember a brief address which she delivered to the 
Anglo-American Ambulance on the day when it 
quitted Paris, and in which she thanked its members 
for their courage and devotion in coming forward, 
and expressed her confidence, and that of all her 
friends, in the kindly services which they would 
undoubtedly bestow upon every sufferer who came 
under their care. 

I accompanied the ambulance on its march 
through Paris to the Eastern Railway Station. When 
it was drawn up outside the Palais de 1'Industrie, 
Count de Flavigny in his turn made a short but 
feeling speech, and immediately afterwards the 
cortege started. At the head of it were three young 


ladies, the daughters of Dr. Marion-Sims, who carried 
respectively the flags of France, England, and the 
United States. Then came the chief surgeons, the 
assistant-surgeons, the dressers and male nurses, 
with some waggons of stores bringing up the rear. 
I walked, I remember, between Dr. Blewitt and Dr. 
May. On either side of the procession were members 
of the Red Cross Society, carrying sticks or poles 
tipped with collection bags, into which money 
speedily began to rain. We crossed the Place de 
la Concorde, turned up the Rue Royale, and then 
followed the main Boulevards as far, I think, as the 
Boulevard de Strasbourg. There were crowds of 
people on either hand, and our progress was neces- 
sarily slow, as it was desired to give the onlookers 
full time to deposit their offerings in the collection- 
bags. From the Cercle Imperial at the corner of 
the Champs Ely sees, from the Jockey Club, the Turf 
Club, the Union, the Chemins-de-Fer, the Ganaches, 
and other clubs on or adjacent to the Boulevards, 
came servants, often in liveries, bearing with them 
both bank-notes and gold. Everybody seemed 
anxious to give something, and an official of the 
society afterwards told me that the collection had 
proved the largest it had ever made. There was also 
great enthusiasm all along the line of route, cries of 
" Vivent les Anglais ! Vivent les Americains ! ' : 
resounding upon every side. 

The train by which the ambulance quitted Paris 
did not start until a very late hour in the evening. 
Prior to its departure most of us dined at a restaurant 
near the railway-station. No little champagne was 
consumed at this repast, and, unaccustomed as I was 
to the sparkling wine of the Marne, it got, I fear, 
slightly into my head. However, my services as 



interpreter were requisitioned more than once by 
some members of the ambulance in connection with 
certain inquiries which they wished to make of the 
railway officials ; and I recollect that when some 
question arose of going in and out of the station, and 
reaching the platform again without let or hindrance 
the departure of the train being long delayed the 
sous-chef de gare made me a most courteous bow, and 
responded : "A vous, messieurs, tout est permis. 
There are no regulations for you ! ' : At last the 
train started, proceeding on its way to Soissons, 
where it arrived at daybreak on August 29, the 
ambulance then hastening to join MacMahon, and 
reaching him just in time to be of good service at 
Sedan. I will only add here that my friend Dr. 
Blewitt was with Dr. Frank at Balan and Bazeilles, 
where the slaughter was so terrible. The rest of the 
ambulance's dramatic story must be read in Dr. 
Ryan's deeply interesting pages. 

Whilst the Parisians were being beguiled with 
stories of how the Prince of Saxe-Meiningen had 
written to his wife telling her that the German troops 
were suffering terribly from sore feet, the said troops 
were in point of fact lustily outmarching MacMahon's 
forces. On August 30, General de Failly was badly 
worsted at Beaumont, and on the following day 
MacMahon was forced to move on Sedan. The first 
reports which reached Paris indicated, as usual, very 
favourable results respecting the contest there. My 
friend Captain Bingham, however, obtained some 
correct information from, I believe, the British 
Embassy and I have always understood that it was 
he who first made the terrible truth known to one of 
the deputies of the Opposition party, who hastened 
to convey it to Thiers. The battle of Sedan was 


fought on Thursday, September 1 ; but it was only 
on Saturday, September 3, that Palikao shadowed 
forth the disaster in the Chamber, stating that 
MacMahon had failed to effect a junction with 
Bazaine, and that, after alternate reverses and 
successes that is, driving a part of the German 
army into the Meuse ! he had been obliged to 
retreat on Sedan and Mezieres, some portion of his 
forces, moreover, having been compelled to cross the 
Belgian frontier. 

That tissue of inaccuracies, devised perhaps to 
palliate the effect of the German telegrams of victory 
which were now becoming known to the incredulous 
Parisians, was torn to shreds a few hours later when 
the Legislative Body assembled for a night-sitting. 
Palikao was then obliged to admit that the French 
army and the Emperor Napoleon had surrendered 
to the victorious German force. Jules Favre, 
who was the recognized leader of the Republican 
Opposition, thereupon brought forward a motion of 
dethronement, proposing that the executive authority 
should be vested in a parliamentary committee. In 
accordance with the practice of the Chamber, Favre's 
motion had to be referred to its bureaux, or ordinary 
committees, and thus no decision was arrived at that 
night, it being agreed that the Chamber should re- 
assemble on the morrow at noon. 

The deputies separated at a very late hour. My 
father and myself were among all the anxious people 
who had assembled on the Place de la Concorde to 
await the issue of the debate. Wild talk was heard 
on every side, imprecations were levelled at the 
Empire, and it was already suggested that the country 
had been sold to the foreigner. At last, as the crowd 
became extremely restless, the authorities, who had 


taken their precautions in consequence of the 
revolutionary spirit which was abroad, decided to 
disperse it. During the evening a considerable body 
of mounted Gardes de Paris had been stationed in or 
near the Palais de 1'Industrie, and now, on instruc- 
tions being conveyed to their commander, they 
suddenly cantered down the Champs Elysees and 
cleared the square, chasing people round and round 
the fountains and the seated statues of the cities of 
France, until they fled by way either of the quays, 
the Rue de Rivoli, or the Rue Roy ale. The vigour 
which the troops displayed did not seem of good 
augury for the adversaries of the Empire. Without 
a doubt Revolution was already in the air, but every- 
thing indicated that the authorities were quite 
prepared to contend with it, and in all probability 

It was with difficulty that my father and myself 
contrived to avoid the troopers and reach the 
Avenue Gabriel, whence we made our way home. 
Meantime there had been disturbances in other 
parts of Paris. On the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle 
a band of demonstrators had come into collision with 
the police, who had arrested several of them. 
Thus, as I have already mentioned, the authorities 
seemed to be as vigilant and as energetic as ever. 
But, without doubt, on that night of Saturday, 
September 3, the secret Republican associations 
were very active, sending the mot cTordre from one 
to another part of the city, so that all might be ready 
for Revolution when the Legislative Body assembled 
on the morrow. 

It was on this same last night of the Empire that 
George Augustus Sala met with the very unpleasant 
adventure to which I previously referred. During 


the evening he went as usual to the Grand Cafe, and 
meeting Blanchard Jerrold there, he endeavoured to 
induce him to go to supper at the Cafe du Helder. 
Sala being in an even more talkative mood than 
usual, and now that he had heard of the disaster of 
Sedan more than ever inclined to express his con- 
tempt of the French in regard to military matters, 
Jerrold declined the invitation, fearing, as he after- 
wards said to my father in my presence, that some 
unpleasantness might well ensue, as Sala, in spite of 
all remonstrances, would not cease " gassing." 
Apropos of that expression, it is somewhat amusing 
to recall that Sala at one time designed for himself 
an illuminated visiting-card, on which appeared his 
initials G. A. S. in letters of gold, the A being inter- 
sected by a gas-lamp diffusing many vivid rays of 
light, whilst underneath it was a scroll bearing the 
appropriate motto, " Dux est Lux." 

But, to return to my story, Jerrold having refused 
the invitation, Sala repaired alone to the Cafe du 
Helder, an establishment which in those imperial 
times was particularly patronized by officers of the 
Paris garrison and officers from the provinces on 
leave. It was the height of folly for anybody to 
" run down " the French army in such a place, 
unless, indeed, he wished to have a number of duels 
on his hands. It is true that on the night of 
September 3, there may have been few, if any, 
military men at the Helder. Certain it is, however, 
that whilst Sala was supping in the principal room 
upstairs, he entered into conversation with other 
people, spoke incautiously, as he had been doing for 
a week past, and on departing from the establish- 
ment was summarily arrested and conveyed to the 
Poste de Police on the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle. 


The cells there were already more or less crowded 
with roughs who had been arrested during the 
disturbance earlier in the evening, and when a 
police official thrust Sala into their midst, at the same 
time calling him a vile Prussian spy, the patriotism 
of the other prisoners was immediately aroused, 
though, for the most part, they were utter scamps 
who had only created a disturbance for the purpose of 
filling their pockets. 

Sala was subjected not merely to much ill-treat- 
ment, but also to indignities which only Rabelais 
or Zola could have (in different ways) adequately 
described ; and it was not until the morning that he 
was able to communicate with the manager of the 
Grand Hotel, where he had his quarters. The 
manager acquainted the British Embassy with his 
predicament, and it was, I think, Mr. Sheffield who 
repaired to the Prefecture de Police to obtain an 
order for Sala's liberation. The story told me at 
the time was that Lord Lyons's representative found 
matters already in great confusion at the Prefecture. 
There had been a stampede of officials, scarcely any 
being at their posts, in such wise that he made his 
way to the Prefect's sanctum unannounced. There 
he found M. Pietri engaged with a confidential 
acolyte in destroying a large number of compromising 
papers, emptying boxes and pigeon-holes in swift 
succession, and piling their contents on an already 
huge fire, which was stirred incessantly in order that 
it might burn more swiftly. Pietri only paused in 
his task in order to write an order for Sala's release, 
and I have always understood that this was the last 
official order that emanated from the famous Prefect 
of the Second Empire. It is true that he presented 
himself at the Tuileries before he fled to Belgium, 


but the Empress, as we know, was averse from any 
armed conflict with the population of Paris. As a 
matter of fact, the Prefecture had spent its last 
strength during the night of September 3. Dis- 
organized as it was on the morning of the 4th, it 
could not have fought the Revolution. As will 
presently appear, those police who on the night of 
the 3rd were chosen to assist in guarding the 
approaches to the Palais Bourbon on the morrow, 
were quite unable to do so. 

Disorder, indeed, prevailed in many places. My 
father had recently found himself in a dilemma in 
regard to the requirements of the Illustrated London 
News. In those days the universal snap-shotting 
hand-camera was unknown. Every scene that it 
was desired to depict in the paper had to be 
sketched, and in presence of all the defensive prepara- 
tions which were being made, a question arose as to 
what might and what might not be sketched. 
General Trochu was Governor of Paris, and applica- 
tions were made to him on the subject. A reply 
came requiring a reference from the British Embassy 
before any permission whatever was granted. In 
due course a letter was obtained from the Embassy, 
signed not, I think, by Lord Lyons himself, but by 
one of the secretaries perhaps Sir Edward Malet, 
or Mr. Wodehouse, or even Mr. Sheffield. At all 
events, on the morning of September 4, my father, 
being anxious to settle the matter, commissioned 
me to take the Embassy letter to Trochu's quarters 
at the Louvre. Here I found great confusion. 
Nobody was paying the slightest attention to official 
work. The bureaux were half deserted. Officers 
came and went incessantly, or gathered in little 
groups in the passages and on the stairs, all of them 


looking extremely upset and talking anxiously and 
excitedly together. I could find nobody to attend 
to any business, and was at a loss what to do, when a 
door opened and a general officer in undress uniform 
appeared on the threshold of a large and finely 
appointed room. 

I immediately recognized Trochu's extremely 
bald head and determined jaw, for since his nomina- 
tion as Governor, Paris had been flooded with 
portraits of him. He had opened the door, I believe, 
to look for an officer, but on seeing me standing there 
with a letter in my hand he inquired what I wanted. 
I replied that I had brought a letter from the British 
Embassy, and he may perhaps have thought that I 
was an Embassy messenger. At all events, he took 
the letter from me, saying curtly: " C'est bien, je 
m'en occuperai, revenez cet apres-midi." With 
those words he stepped back into the room and care- 
fully placed the letter on the top of several others 
which were neatly disposed on a side-table. 

The incident was trivial in itself, yet it afforded 
a glimpse of Trochu's character. Here was the man 
who, in his earlier years, had organized the French 
Expedition to the Crimea in a manner far superior 
to that in which our own had been organized ; a man 
of method, order, precision, fully qualified to prepare 
the defence of Paris, though not to lead her army in 
the field. Brief as was that interview of mine, I 
could not help noticing how perfectly calm and self- 
possessed he was, for his demeanour greatly con- 
trasted with the anxious or excited bearing of his 
subordinates. Yet he had reached the supreme 
crisis of his life. The Empire was falling, a first 
offer of Power had been made to him on the 
previous evening ; and a second offer, which he 


finally accepted,* was almost imminent. Yet on 
that morning of Revolution he appeared as cool as 
a cucumber. 

I quitted the Louvre, going towards the Rue 
Royale, it having been arranged with my father 
that we should take dejeuner at a well-known restau- 
rant there. It was called " His Lordship's Larder," 
and was pre-eminently an English house, though the 
landlord bore the German name of Weber. He and 
his family were unhappily suffocated in the cellars of 
their establishment during one of the conflagrations 
which marked the Bloody Week of the Commune. 
At the time when I met my father, that is about 
noon, there was nothing particularly ominous in 
the appearance of the streets along which I myself 
passed. It was a fine bright Sunday, and, as was 
usual on such a day, there were plenty of people 
abroad. Recently enrolled National Guards certainly 
predominated among the men, but the latter in- 
cluded many in civilian attire, and there was no lack 
of women and children. As for agitation, I saw no 
sign of it. 

As I was afterwards told, however, by Delmas, 
the landlord of the Cafe Gretry, f matters were very 
different that morning on the Boulevards, and 
particularly on the Boulevard Montmartre. By ten 

* See my book, " Republican France," p. 8. 

t This was a little cafe on the Boulevard des Italiens, and was noted 
for its quietude during the afternoon, though in the evening it was, by 
reason of its proximity to the " Petite Bourse " (held on the side-walk 
in front of it), invaded by noisy speculators. Captain Bingham, my father, 
and myself long frequented the Cafe Gretry, often writing our " Paris 
letters " there. Subsequent to the war, Bingham and I removed to the 
Cafe Cardinal, where, however, the everlasting rattle of dominoes proved 
very disturbing. In the end, on that account, and in order to be nearer to a 
club to which we both belonged, we emigrated to the Cafe Napolitain. One 
reason for writing one's copy at a cafe instead of at one's club was that, 
at the former, one could at any moment receive messengers bringing late 
news ; in addition to which, afternoon newspapers were instantly available. 


o'clock, indeed, great crowds had assembled there, 
and the excitement grew apace. The same words 
were on all lips : " Sedan the whole French army 
taken the wretched Emperor's sword surrendered 
unworthy to reign dethrone him ! " Just as, in 
another crisis of French history, men had climbed 
on to the chairs and tables in the garden of the 
Palais Royal to denounce Monsieur and Madame 
Veto and urge the Parisians to march upon Versailles, 
so now others climbed on the chairs outside the 
Boulevard cafes to denounce the Empire, and urge 
a march upon the Palais Bourbon, where the Legis- 
lative Body was about to meet. And amidst the 
general clamour one cry persistently prevailed. It 
was : " Decheance ! Decheance ! Dethronement ! 
Dethronement ! " 

At every moment the numbers of the crowd in- 
creased. New-comers continually arrived from the 
eastern districts by way of the Boulevards, and from 
the north by way of the Faubourg Montmartre and 
the Rue Drouot, whilst from the south the Quartier 
Latin and its neighbourhood contingents made 
their way across the Pont St. Michel and the Pont 
Notre Dame, and thence, past the Halles, along the 
Boulevard de Sebastopol and the Rue Montmartre. 
Why the Quartier Latin element did not advance 
direct on the Palais Bourbon from its own side of the 
river I cannot exactly say ; but it was, I believe, 
thought desirable to join hands, in the first instance, 
with the Revolutionary elements of northern Paris. 
All this took place whilst my father and myself were 
partaking of our meal. When we quitted the 
" Larder," a little before one o'clock, all the small 
parties of National Guards and civilians whom we 
had observed strolling about at an earlier hour, had 


congregated on the Place de la Concorde, attracted 
thither by the news of the special Sunday sitting, at 
which the Legislative Body would undoubtedly take 
momentous decisions. 

It should be added that nearly all the National 
Guards who assembled on the Place de la Concorde 
before one o'clock were absolutely unarmed. At 
that hour, however, a large force of them, equivalent 
to a couple of battalions or thereabouts, came 
marching down the Rue Royale from the Boulevards, 
and these men (who were preceded by a solitary 
drummer) carried, some of them, chassepots and 
others fusils-a-tabatiere, having moreover, in most 
instances, their bayonets fixed. They belonged to 
the north of Paris, though I cannot say precisely 
to what particular districts, nor do I know exactly 
by whose orders they had been assembled and 
instructed to march on the Palais Bourbon, as they 
speedily did. But it is certain that all the fermenta- 
tion of the morning and all that occurred afterwards 
was the outcome of the night-work of the secret 
Republican Committees. 

As the guards marched on, loud cries of " De- 
cheance ! Decheance ! " arose among them, and 
were at once taken up by the spectators. Perfect 
unanimity, indeed, appeared to prevail on the 
question of dethroning the Emperor. Even the 
soldiers who were scattered here and there a few 
Linesmen, a few Zouaves, a few Turcos, some of 
them invalided from MacMahon's forces eagerly 
joined in the universal cry, and began to follow the 
guards on to the Place de la Concorde. Never, 
I believe, had that square been more crowded- not 
even in the days when it was known as the Place 
Louis Quinze, and when hundreds of people were 


crushed to death there whilst witnessing a display of 
fireworks in connection with the espousals of the 
future Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, not even 
when it had become the Place de la Revolution and 
was thronged by all who wished to witness the 
successive executions of the last King and Queen 
of the old French monarchy. From the end of the 
Rue Royale to the bridge conducting across the Seine 
to the Palais Bourbon, from the gate of the Tuileries 
garden to the horses of Marly at the entrance of the 
Champs Elysees, around the obelisk of Luxor, and 
the fountains which were playing as usual in the 
bright sunshine which fell from the blue sky, along 
all the balustrades connecting the seated statues of 
the cities of France, here, there, and everywhere, 
indeed, you saw human heads. And the clamour 
was universal. The great square had again become 
one of Revolution, and yet it remained one of 
Concord also, for there was absolute agreement 
among the hundred thousand or hundred and fifty 
thousand people who had chosen it as their meeting- 
place, an agreement attested by that universal and 
never-ceasing cry of " Dethronement ! " 

As the armed National Guards debouched from 
the Rue Royale, their solitary drummer plied his 
sticks. But the roll of the drum was scarcely heard 
in the general uproar, and so dense was the crowd 
that the men could advance but very slowly. For a 
while it took some minutes to make only a few steps. 
Meantime the ranks of the men were broken here and 
there, other people got among them, and at last my 
father and myself were caught in the stream and 
carried with it, still somewhat slowly, in the direction 
of the Pont de la Concorde. I read recently that the 
bridge was defended by mounted men of the Garde 


de Paris (the forerunner of the Garde Republicaine 
of to-day) ; a French writer, in recalling the scene, 
referring to " the men's helmets glistening in the 
sunshine." But that is pure imagination. The 
bridge was defended by a cordon of police ranged in 
front of a large body of Gendarmerie mobile, wearing 
the familiar dark blue white-braided Mpis and the 
dark blue tunics with white aiguillettes. At first, as 
I have already said, we advanced but slowly towards 
that defending force ; but, all at once, we were swept 
onward by other men who had come from the 
Boulevards, in our wake. A minute later an abrupt 
halt ensued, whereupon it was only with great 
difficulty that we were able to resist the pressure 
from behind. 

I at last contrived to raise myself on tiptoes. 
Our first ranks had effected a breach in those of the 
sergents-de-ville, but before us were the mounted 
gendarmes, whose officer suddenly gave a command 
and drew his sword. For an instant I saw him 
plainly : his face was intensely pale. But a sudden 
rattle succeeded his command, for his men responded 
to it by drawing their sabres, which flashed ominously. 
A minute, perhaps two minutes, elapsed, the pressure 
in our rear still and ever increasing. I do not know 
what happened exactly at the head of our column : 
the uproar was greater than ever, and it seemed as if, 
in another moment, we should be charged, ridden 
over, cut down, or dispersed. I believe, however, 
that in presence of that great concourse of people, 
in presence too of the universal reprobation of the 
Empire which had brought defeat, invasion, humilia- 
tion upon France, the officer commanding the 
gendarmes shrank from carrying out his orders. 
There must have been a brief parley with the leaders 


of our column. In any case, the ranks of the 
gendarmes suddenly opened, many of them taking to 
the footways of the bridge, over which our column 
swept at the double-quick, raising exultant shouts 
of " Vive la Republique ! " It was almost a race 
as to who should be the first to reach the Palais 
Bourbon. Those in the rear were ever impelling 
the foremost onward, and there was no time to look 
about one. But in a rapid vision, as it were, I saw 
the gendarmes reining in their horses on either side 
of us ; and, here and there, medals gleamed on their 
dark tunics, and it seemed to me as if more than one 
face wore an angry expression. These men had 
fought under the imperial eagles, they had been 
decorated for their valour in the Crimean, Italian, 
and Cochin-China wars. Veterans all, and faithful 
servants of the Empire, they saw the regime for which 
they had fought, collapsing. Had their command- 
ing officer ordered it, they might well have charged us ; 
but, obedient to discipline, they had opened their 
ranks, and now the Will of the People was sweeping 
past them. 

None of our column had a particularly threatening 
mien ; the general demeanour was rather suggestive 
of joyful expectancy. But, the bridge once crossed, 
there was a fresh pause at the gates shutting off the 
steps of the Palais Bourbon. Here infantry were 
assembled, with their chassepots in readiness. 
Another very brief but exciting interval ensued. 
Then the Linesmen were withdrawn, the gates 
swung open, and everybody rushed up the steps. 
I was carried hither and thither, and at last from 
the portico into the building, where I contrived to 
halt beside one of the statues in the " Salle des Pas 
Perdus." I looked for my father, but could not see 


him, and remained wedged in my corner for quite a 
considerable time. Finally, however, another rush 
of invaders dislodged me, and I was swept with many 
others into the Chamber itself. All was uproar and 
confusion there. Very few deputies were present. 
The public galleries, the seats of the members, the 
hemicycle in front of the tribune, were crowded with 
National Guards. Some were standing on the steno- 
graphers' table and on the ushers' chairs below the 
tribune. There were others on the tribune stairs. 
And at the tribune itself, with his hat on his head, 
stood Gambetta, hoarsely shouting, amidst the 
general din, that Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and his 
dynasty had for ever ceased to reign. Then, again 
and again, arose the cry of " Vive la Republique ! " 
In the twinkling of an eye, however, Gambetta was 
lost to view he and other Republican deputies 
betaking themselves, as I afterwards learnt, to the 
palace steps, where the dethronement of the Bona- 
partes was again proclaimed. The invaders of the 
chamber swarmed after them, and I was watching 
their departure when I suddenly saw my father 
quietly leaning back in one of the ministerial seats 
perhaps that which, in the past, had been occupied 
by Billault, Rouher, Ollivier, and other powerful 
and prominent men of the fallen regime. 

At the outset of the proceedings that day Palikao 
had proposed the formation of a Council of Govern- 
ment and National Defence which was to include 
five members of the Legislative Body. The ministers 
were to be appointed by this Council, and he was to 
be Lieutenant-General of France. It so happened 
that the more fervent Imperialists had previously 
offered him a dictatorship, but he had declined it. 
Jules Favre met the General's proposal by claiming 


priority for the motion which he had submitted at 
the midnight sitting, whilst Thiers tried to bring 
about a compromise by suggesting such a Committee 
as Palikao had indicated, but placing the choice of its 
members entirely in the hands of the Legislative 
Body, omitting all reference to Palikao's Lieutenancy, 
and, further, setting forth that a Constituent 
Assembly should be convoked as soon as circum- 
stances might permit. The three proposals Thiers', 
Favre's, and Palikao's were submitted to the 
bureaux, and whilst these bureaux were deliberating 
in various rooms the first invasion of the Chamber 
took place in spite of the efforts of Jules Ferry, who 
had promised Palikao that the proceedings of the 
Legislature should not be disturbed. When the 
sitting was resumed the " invaders," who, at that 
moment, mainly occupied the galleries, would listen 
neither to President Schneider nor to their favourite 
Gambetta, though both appealed to them for silence 
and order. Jules Favre alone secured a few moments' 
quietude, during which he begged that there might 
be no violence. Palikao was present, but did not 
speak.* Amidst the general confusion came the 
second invasion of the Chamber, when I was swept 
off my feet and carried on to the floor of the house. 
That second invasion precipitated events. Even 
Gambetta wished the dethronement of the dynasty 
to be signified by a formal vote, but the " invaders " 
would brook no delay. 

Both of us, my father and I, were tired and 
thirsty after our unexpected experiences. Accord- 
ingly we did not follow the crowd back to the steps 

* Later in the day, alter urging Trochu to accept the presidency of the 
new Government, as otherwise "all might be lost," Palikao quitted Paris 
for Belgium. He stayed at Namur during the remainder of the war, and 
afterwards lived in retirement at Versailles, where he died in January, 1878. 


overlooking the Place de la Concorde, but, like a 
good many other people, we went off by way of the 
Place de Bourgogne. No damage had been done 
in the Chamber itself, but as we quitted the building 
we noticed several inscriptions scrawled upon the 
walls. In some instances the words were merely 
" Vive la Republique ! " and " Mort aux Prussiens ! " 
At other times, however, they were too disgusting to 
be set down here. In or near the Rue de Bourgogne 
we found a fairly quiet wine-shop, where we rested 
and refreshed ourselves with cannettes of so-called 
Biere de Strasbourg. We did not go at that moment 
to the H6tel-de-Ville, whither a large part of the 
crowd betook itself by way of the quays, and where 
the Republic was again proclaimed ; but returned to 
the Place de la Concorde, where some thousands of 
people still remained. Everybody was looking very 
animated and very pleased. Everybody imagined 
that, the Empire being overthrown, France would 
soon drive back the German invader. All fears for 
the future seemed, indeed, to have departed. 
Universal confidence prevailed, and everybody con- 
gratulated everybody else. There was, in any case, 
one good cause for congratulation : the Revolution 
had been absolutely bloodless the first and only 
phenomenon of the kind in all French history. 

Whilst we were strolling about the Place de la 
Concorde I noticed that the chief gate of the Tuileries 
garden had been forced open and damaged. The 
gilded eagles which had decorated it had been struck 
off and pounded to pieces, this, it appeared, having 
been chiefly the work of an enterprising Turco. A 
few days later Victorien Sardou wrote an interesting 
account of how he and others obtained admittance, 
first to the reserved garden, and then to the palace 



itself. On glancing towards it I observed that the 
flag which had still waved over the principal pavilion 
that morning, had now disappeared. It had been 
lowered after the departure of the Empress. Of the 
last hours which she spent in the palace, before she 
quitted it with Prince Metternich and Count Nigra 
to seek a momentary refuge at the residence of her 
dentist, Dr. Evans, I have given a detailed account, 
based on reliable narratives and documents, in my 
" Court of the Tuileries." 

Quitting, at last, the Place de la Concorde, we 
strolled slowly homeward. Some tradespeople in the 
Rue Royale and the Faubourg St. Honore, former pur- 
veyors to the Emperor or the Empress, were already 
hastily removing the imperial arms from above their 
shops. That same afternoon and during the ensuing 
Monday and Tuesday every escutcheon, every 
initial N, every crown, every eagle, every inscription 
that recalled the Empire, was removed or obliterated 
in one or another manner. George Augustus Sala, 
whose recent adventure confined him to his room at 
the Grand Hotel, spent most of his time in watching 
the men who removed the eagles, crowns, and Ns 
from the then unfinished Opera-house. Even the 
streets which recalled the imperial regime were 
hastily renamed. The Avenue de I'lmperatrice at 
once became the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne ; and 
the Rue du Dix-Decembre (so called in memory of 
Napoleon's assumption of the imperial dignity) was 
rechristened Rue du Quatre Septembre this being 
the " happy thought " of a Zouave, who, mounted on 
a ladder, set the new name above the old one, whilst 
the plate bearing the latter was struck off with a 
hammer by a young workman. 

As we went home on the afternoon of that 


memorable Fourth, we noticed that all the cafes 
and wine-shops were doing a brisk trade. Neither 
then nor during the evening, however, did I perceive 
much actual drunkenness. It was rather a universal 
jollity, as though some great victory had been gained. 
Truth to tell, the increase of drunkenness in Paris 
was an effect of the German Siege of the city, when 
drink was so plentiful and food so scarce. 

My father and I had reached the corner of our 
street when we witnessed an incident which I have 
related in detail in the first pages of my book, 
" Republican France." It was the arrival of Gambetta 
at the Ministry of the Interior, by way of the Avenue 
de Marigny, with an escort of red-shirted Francs- 
tireurs de la Presse. The future Dictator had seven 
companions with him, all huddled inside or on the 
roof of a four-wheel cab, which was drawn by two 
Breton nags. I can still picture him alighting from 
the vehicle and, in the name of the Republic, ordering 
a chubby little Linesman, who was mounting guard 
at the gate of the Ministry, to have the said gate 
opened ; and I can see the sleek and elderly concierge, 
who had bowed to many an Imperial Minister, com- 
plying with the said injunction, and respectfully 
doffing his tasselled smoking-cap and bending double 
whilst he admitted his new master. Then the gate 

closed, and from behind the finely-wrought 
ornamental iron-work Gambetta briefly addresses 
the little throng which has recognized him, saying 
that the Empire is dead, but that France is only 
wounded, and that her very wounds will inflame her 
with fresh courage ; promising, too, that the whole 
nation shall be armed ; and asking one and all to 
place confidence in the new Government, even as 
the latter will place confidence in the people. 


In the evening I strolled with my father to the 
Place de F Hotel de Ville, where many people were 
congregated. A fairly large body of National Guards 
was posted in front of the building, most of whose 
windows were lighted up. The members of the New 
Government of National Defence were deliberating 
there. Trochu had become its President, and Jules 
Favre its Vice-President and Minister for Foreign 
Affairs. Henri Rochefort, released that afternoon 
by his admirers from the prison of Sainte Pelagic, 
was included in the administration, this being in the 
main composed of the deputies for Paris. Only one 
of the latter, the cautious Thiers, refused to join 
it. He presided, however, that same evening over a 
gathering of some two hundred members of the 
moribund Legislative Body, which then made a 
forlorn attempt to retain some measure of authority, 
by coming to some agreement with the new Govern- 
ment. But Jules Favre and Jules Simon, who 
attended the meeting on the latter' s behalf, would 
not entertain the suggestion. It was politely 
signified to the deputies that their support in Paris 
was not required, and that if they desired to serve 
their country in any way, they had better betake 
themselves to their former constituencies in the 
provinces. So far as the Legislative Body and the 
Senate,* also, were concerned, everything ended in a 
delightful bit of comedy. Not only were the doors of 
their respective meeting halls locked, but they were 
" secured " with strips of tape and seals of red wax. 

* The Senate, over which Rouher presided, dispersed quietly on hearing 
of the invasion of the Chamber. The proposal that it should adjourn 
till more fortunate times emanated from Rouher himself. A few cries of 
" Vive 1'Empereur ! " were raised as the assembly dispersed. Almost 
immediately afterwards, however, most of the Senators, including Rouher, 
who knew that he was very obnoxious to the Parisians, quitted the city 
and even France. 


The awe with which red sealing-wax inspires French- 
men is distinctly a trait of the national character. 
Had there been, however, a real Bonaparte in Paris 
at that time, he would probably have cut off the afore- 
said seals with his sword. 

On the morning of September 5, the Charivari 
otherwise the daily Parisian Punch came out 
with a cartoon designed to sum up the whole period 
covered by the imperial rule. It depicted France 
bound hand and foot and placed between the mouths 
of two cannons, one inscribed " Paris, 1851," and 
the other " Sedan, 1870 " those names and dates 
representing the Alpha and Omega of the Second 



The Government of National Defence The Army of Paris The Return 
of Victor Hugo The German advance on Paris The National 
Guard reviewed Hospitable Preparations for the Germans They 
draw nearer still Departure of Lord Lyons Our Last Day of 
Liberty On the Fortifications The Bois de Boulogne and our Live 
Stock Mass before the Statue of Strasbourg Devout Breton Mobiles 
Evening on the Boulevards and in the Clubs Trochu and Ducrot 
The Fight and Panic of Chatillon The Siege begins. 

As I shall have occasion in these pages to mention a 
good many members of the self -constituted Govern- 
ment which succeeded the Empire, it may be as well 
for me to set down here their names and the offices 
they held. I have already mentioned that Trochu 
was President, and Jules Favre Vice-President, of 
tHe new administration. The former also retained 
his office as Governor of Paris, and at the same time 
became Generalissimo. Favre, for his part, took 
the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. With him and 
Trochu were Gambetta, Minister of the Interior; 
Jules Simon, Minister of Public Instruction ; Adolphe 
Oemieux, Minister of Justice ; Ernest Picard, 
Minister of Finance ; Jules Ferry, Secretary-General 
to the Government, and later Mayor of Paris ; and 
Henri Rochefort, President of the Committee of 
Barricades. Four of their colleagues, Emmanuel 
Arago, Garnier-Pages, Eugene Pelletan, and Glais- 



Bizoin, did not take charge of any particular admin- 
istrative departments, the remainder of these being 
allotted to men whose co-operation was secured. 
For instance, old General Le Flo became Minister of 
War under Trochu, however, and not over him. 
Vice-Admiral Fourichon was appointed Minister of 
Marine ; Magnin, an iron-master, became Minister 
of Commerce and Agriculture ; Frederic Dorian, 
another iron-master, took the department of Public 
Works ; Count Emile de Keratry acted as Prefect of 
Police, and Etienne Arago, in the earlier days, as 
Mayor of Paris. 

The new Government was fully installed by 
Tuesday, September 6. It had already issued several 
more or less stirring proclamations, which were 
followed by a despatch which Jules Favre addressed 
to the French diplomatic representatives abroad. 
As a set-off to the arrival of a number of dejected 
travel-stained fugitives from MacMahon's army, 
whose appearance was by no means of a nature to 
exhilarate the Parisians, the defence was reinforced 
by a large number of Gardes Mobiles, who poured 
into the city, particularly from Brittany, Trochu's 
native province, and by a considerable force of 
regulars, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, commanded 
by the veteran General Vinoy (then seventy years of 
age), who had originally been despatched to assist 
MacMahon, but, having failed to reach him before 
the disaster of Sedan, retreated in good order on the 
capital. At the time when the Siege actually com- 
menced there were in Paris about 90,000 regulars 
(including all arms and categories), 110,000 Mobile 
Guards, and a naval contingent of 13,500 men, that 
is a force of 213,000, in addition to the National 
Guards, who were about 280,000 in number. Thus, 


altogether, nearly half a million armed men were 
assembled in Paris for the purpose of defending it. 
As all authorities afterwards admitted, this was a 
very great blunder, as fully 100,000 regulars and 
mobiles might have been spared to advantage for 
service in the provinces. Of course the National 
Guards themselves could not be sent away from the 
city, though they were often an encumbrance rather 
than a help, and could not possibly have carried on 
the work of defence had they been left to their own 

Besides troops, so long as the railway trains 
continued running, additional military stores and 
supplies of food, flour, rice, biscuits, preserved meats, 
rolled day by day into Paris. At the same time, 
several illustrious exiles returned to the capital. 
Louis Blanc and Edgar Quinet arrived there, after 
years of absence, in the most unostentatious fashion, 
though they soon succumbed to the prevailing mania 
of inditing manifestoes and exhortations for the 
benefit of their fellow-countrymen. Victor Hugo's 
return was more theatrical. In those famous 
" Chatiments " in which he had so severely flagel- 
lated the Third Napoleon (after, in earlier years, 
exalting the First to the dignity of a demi-god), he 
had vowed to keep out of France and to protest 
against the Empire so long as it lasted, penning, in 
this connection, the famous line : 

" Et s'il n'en reste qu'un, je serai celui-U ! " 

But now the Empire had fallen, and so Hugo returned 
in triumph to Paris. When he alighted from the 
train which brought him, he said to those who had 
assembled to give him a fitting greeting, that he had 
come to do his duty in the hour of danger, that duty 


being to save Paris, which meant more than saving 
France, for it implied saving the world itself Paris 
being the capital of civilization, the centre of man- 
kind. Naturally enough, those fine sentiments were 
fervently applauded by the great poet's admirers, and 
when he had installed himself with his companions 
in an open carriage, two or three thousand people 
escorted him processionally along the Boulevards. 
It was night-time, and the cafes were crowded and 
the footways covered with promenaders as the 
cortege went by, the escort singing now the " Marseil- 
laise " and now the " Chant du Depart," whilst on 
every side shouts of " Vive Victor Hugo ! " rang out 
as enthusiastically as if the appointed " Saviour of 
Paris " were indeed actually passing. More than 
once I saw the illustrious poet stand up, uncover, 
and wave his hat in response to the acclamations, 
and I then particularly noticed the loftiness of his 
forehead, and the splendid crop of white hair with 
which it was crowned. Hugo, at that time sixty- 
eight years old, still looked vigorous, but it was 
beyond the power of any such man as himself to 
save the city from what was impending. All he 
could do was to indite perfervid manifestoes, and 
subsequently, in " L'Annee terrible," commemorate 
the doings and sufferings of the time. For the rest, 
he certainly enrolled himself as a National Guard, 
and I more than once caught sight of him wearing 
kepi and vareuse. I am not sure, however, whether 
he ever did a " sentry-go." 

It must have been on the day following Victor 
Hugo's arrival that I momentarily quitted Paris for 
reasons in which my youthful but precocious heart 
was deeply concerned. I was absent for four days 
or so, and on returning to the capital I was 


accompanied by my stepmother, who, knowing that 
my father intended to remain in the city during the 
impending siege, wished to be with him for a while 
before the investment began. I recollect that she 
even desired to remain with us, though that was 
impossible, as she had young children, whom she 
had left at Saint Servan ; and, besides, as I one day 
jocularly remarked to her, she would, by staying in 
Paris, have added to the " useless mouths," whose 
numbers the Republican, like the Imperial, Govern- 
ment was, with very indifferent success, striving to 
diminish. However, she only quitted us at the last 
extremity, departing on the evening of September 17, 
by the Western line, which, on the morrow, the enemy 
cut at Conflans, some fourteen miles from Paris. 

Day by day the Parisians had received news of 
the gradual approach of the German forces. On the 
8th they heard that the Crown Prince of Prussia's 
army was advancing from Montmirail to Coulom- 
miers whereupon the city became very restless; 
whilst on the 9th there came word that the black and 
white pennons of the ubiquitous Uhlans had been 
seen at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. That same day 
Thiers quitted Paris on a mission which he had under- 
taken for the new Government, that of pleading the 
cause of France at the Courts of London, St. Peters- 
burg, Vienna, and Rome. Then, on the llth, there 
were tidings that Laon had capitulated, though not 
without its defenders blowing up a powder-magazine 
and thereby injuring some German officers of 
exalted rank for which reason the deed was enthusi- 
astically commended by the Parisian Press, though it 
would seem to have been a somewhat treacherous 
one, contrary to the ordinary usages of war. On 
the 12th some German scouts reached Meaux, and a 


larger force leisurely occupied Melun. The French, 
on their part, were busy after a fashion. They 
offered no armed resistance to the German advance, 
but they tried to impede it in sundry ways. With 
the idea of depriving the enemy of " cover," various 
attempts were made to fire some of the woods in 
the vicinity of Paris, whilst in order to cheat him of 
supplies, stacks and standing crops were here and 
there destroyed. Then, too, several railway and 
other bridges were blown up, including the railway 
bridge at Creil, so that direct communication with 
Boulogne and Calais ceased on September 12. 

The 13th was a great day for the National Guards, 
who were then reviewed by General Trochu. With 
my father and my young stepmother, I went to see 
the sight, which was in many respects an interesting 
one. A hundred and thirty-six battalions, or 
approximately 180,000 men, of the so-called 
" citizen soldiery " were under arms ; their lines 
extending, first, along the Boulevards from the 
Bastille to the Madeleine, then down the Rue Royale, 
across the Place de la Concorde and up the Champs 
Elysees as far as the Rond Point. In addition, 
100,000 men of the Garde Mobile were assembled 
along the quays of the Seine and up the Champs 
Elysees from the Rond Point to the Arc de Triomphe. 
I have never since set eyes on so large a force of 
armed men. They were of all sorts. Some of the 
Mobiles, notably the Breton ones, who afterwards 
gave a good account of themselves, looked really 
soldierly ; but the National Guards were a strangely 
mixed lot. They all wore kepis, but quite half of 
them as yet had no uniforms, and were attired in 
blouses and trousers of various hues. Only here and 
there could one see a man of military bearing ; most 


of them struck happy-go-lucky attitudes, and were 
quite unable to keep step in marching. A particular 
feature of the display was the number of flowers 
and sprigs of evergreen with which the men had 
decorated the muzzles of the fusils-a-tdbatiere which 
they mostly carried. Here and there, moreover, 
one and another fellow displayed on his bayonet- 
point some coloured caricature of the ex-Emperor or 
the ex-Empress. What things they were, those in- 
numerable caricatures of the months which followed 
the Revolution ! Now and again there appeared 
one which was really clever, which embodied a smart, 
a witty idea ; but how many of them were simply 
the outcome of a depraved, a lewd, a bestial imagina- 
tion ! The most offensive caricatures of Marie- 
Antoinette were as nothing beside those levelled at 
that unfortunate woman, the Empress Eugenie. 

Our last days of liberty were now slipping by. 
Some of the poorest folk of the environs of Paris were 
at last coming into the city, bringing their chattels 
with them. Strange ideas, however, had taken 
hold of some of the more simple-minded suburban 
bourgeois. Departing hastily into the provinces, so 
as to place their skins out of harm's reach, they had 
not troubled to store their household goods in the 
city ; but had left them in their coquettish villas 
and pavilions, the doors of which were barely locked. 
The German soldiers would very likely occupy the 
houses, but assuredly they would do no harm to 
them. " Perhaps, however, it might be as well to 
propitiate the foreign soldiers. Let us leave some- 
thing for them," said worthy Monsieur Durand to 
Madame Durand, his wife ; " they will be hungry 
when they get here, and if they find something ready 
for them they will be grateful and do no damage." 


So, although the honest Durands carefully barred 
at times even walled-up their cellars of choice wines, 
they arranged that plenty of bottles, at times even 
a cask, of vin ordinaire should be within easy access ; 
and ham, cheese, sardines, saucissons de Lyon, and 
pates de foie gras were deposited in the pantry cup- 
boards, which were considerately left unlocked in 
order that the good, mild-mannered, honest Germans 
(who, according to a proclamation issued by " Unser 
Fritz" at an earlier stage of the hostilities, "made 
war on the Emperor Napoleon and not on the French 
nation ") might regale themselves without let or 
hindrance. Moreover, the nights were " drawing in," 
the evenings becoming chilly; so why not lay the 
fires, and place matches and candles in convenient 
places for the benefit of the unbidden guests who 
would so soon arrive ? All those things being done, 
M. and Mme. Durand departed to seek the quietude 
of Fouilly-les-Oies, never dreaming that on their 
return to Montf ermeil, Palaiseau, or Sartrouville, they 
would find their salon converted into a pigstye, 
their furniture smashed, and their clocks and chimney- 
ornaments abstracted. Of course the M. Durand 
of to-day knows what happened to his respected 
parents ; he knows what to think of the good, honest, 
considerate German soldiery ; and, if he can help it, 
he will not in any similar case leave so much as a 
wooden spoon to be carried off to the Fatherland, 
and added as yet another trophy to the hundred 
thousand French clocks and the million French 
nick-nacks which are still preserved there as 
mementoes of the " grosse Zeit." 

On September 15, we heard of some petty 
skirmishes between Uhlans and Francs-tireurs in the 
vicinity of Montereau and Melun ; on the morrow 


the enemy captured a train at Senlis, and fired on 
another near Chantilly, fortunately without wounding 
any of the passengers ; whilst on the same day his 
presence was signalled at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, 
only ten miles south of Paris. That evening, more- 
over, he attempted to ford the Seine at Juvisy. On 
the 16th some of his forces appeared between Creteil 
and Neuilly-sur-Marne, on the eastern side of the 
city, and only some five miles from the fort of 
Vincennes. Then we again heard of him on the south 
of his presence at Brunoy, Ablon, and Athis, and 
of the pontoons by which he was crossing the Seine 
at Villeneuve and Choisy-le-Roi. 

Thus the advance steadily continued, quite un- 
checked by force of arms, save for just a few trifling 
skirmishes initiated by sundry Francs-tireurs. Not 
a road, not a barricade, was defended by the authori- 
ties ; not once was the passage of a river contested. 
Here and there the Germans found obstructions : 
poplars had been felled and laid across a highway, 
bridges and railway tunnels had occasionally been 
blown up ; but all such impediments to their advance 
were speedily overcome by the enemy, who marched 
on quietly, feeling alternately puzzled and astonished 
at never being confronted by any French forces. 
As the invaders drew nearer to Paris they found 
an abundance of vegetables and fruit at their dis- 
posal, but most of the peasantry had fled, taking 
their live stock with them, and, as a German officer 
told me in after years, eggs, cheese, butter, and milk 
could seldom be procured. 

On the 17th the French began to recover from 
the stupor which seemed to have fallen on them. 
Old General Vinoy crossed the Marne at Charenton 
with some of his forces, and a rather sharp skirmish 


ensued in front of the village of Mesly. That same 
day Lord Lyons, the British Ambassador, took his 
departure from Paris, proceeding by devious ways 
to Tours, whither, a couple of days previously, three 
delegates of the National Defence two septua- 
genarians and one sexagenarian, Cremieux, Glais- 
Bizoin, and Fourichon had repaired in order to 
take over the general government of France. Lord 
Lyons had previously told Jules Favre that he 
intended to remain in the capital, but I believe that 
his decision was modified by instructions from 
London. With him went most of the Embassy 
staff, British interests in Paris remaining in the 
hands of the second secretary, Mr. Wodehouse, and 
the vice-consul. The consul himself had very 
prudently quitted Paris, in order " to drink the 
waters," some time previously. Colonel Claremont, 
the military attache, still remained with us, but by 
degrees, as the siege went on, the Embassy staff 
dwindled down to the concierge and two or was it 
four ? sheep browsing on the lawn. Mr. Wode- 
house went off (my father and myself being among 
those who accompanied him, as I shall relate in a 
future chapter) towards the middle of November ; 
and before the bombardment began Colonel Clare- 
mont likewise executed a strategical retreat. Never- 
theless or should I say for that very reason ? he 
was subsequently made a general officer. 

A day or two before Lord Lyons left he drew up a 
notice warning British subjects that if they should 
remain in Paris it would be at their own risk and 
peril. The British colony was not then so large 
as it is now, nevertheless it was a considerable one. 
A good many members of it undoubtedly departed 
on their own initiative. Few, if any, saw Lord 


Lyons's notice, for it was purely and simply con- 
veyed to them through the medium of Galignani's 
Messenger, which, though it was patronized by 
tourists staying at the hotels, was seldom seen by 
genuine British residents, most of whom read London 

The morrow of Lord Lyons's departure, Sunday, 
September 18, was our last day of liberty. The 
weather was splendid, the temperature as warm as 
that of June. All Paris was out of doors. We were 
not without women-folk and children. Not only 
were there the wives and offspring of the working- 
classes ; but the better halves of many tradespeople 
and bourgeois had remained in the city, together 
with a good many ladies of higher social rank. Thus, 
in spite of all the departures, "papa, mamma, and 
baby " were still to be met in many directions on 
that last day preceding the investment. There were 
gay crowds everywhere, on the Boulevards, on the 
squares, along the quays, and along the roads skirting 
the ramparts. These last were the " great attrac- 
tion," and thousands of people strolled about watch- 
ing the work which was in progress. Stone casements 
were being roofed with earth, platforms were being 
prepared for guns, gabions were being set in position 
at the embrasures, sandbags were being carried to 
the parapets, stakes were being pointed for the 
many pieges-a-loups, and smooth earthworks were 
being planted with an infinity of spikes. Some guns 
were already in position, others, big naval guns from 
Brest or Cherbourg, were still lying on the turf. 
Meanwhile, at the various city gates, the very last 
vehicles laden with furniture and forage were 
arriving from the suburbs. And up and down went 
all the promenaders, chatting, laughing, examining 


this and that work of defence or engine of destruction 
in such a good-humoured, light-hearted way that the 
whole chemin-de-ronde seemed to be a vast fair, held 
solely for the amusement of the most volatile people 
that the world has ever known. 

Access to the Bois de Boulogne was forbidden. 
Acres of timber had already been felled there, and 
from the open spaces the mild September breeze 
occasionally wafted the lowing of cattle, the bleating 
of sheep, and the grunting of pigs. Our live stock 
consisted of 30,000 oxen, 175,000 sheep, 8,800 pigs, 
and 6,000 milch-cows. Little did we think how soon 
those animals (apart from the milch-cows) would 
be consumed ! Few of us were aware that, according 
to Maxime Ducamp's great work on Paris, we had 
hitherto consumed, on an average, every day of the 
year, 935 oxen, 4680 sheep, 570 pigs, and 600 calves, 
to say nothing of 46,000 head of poultry, game, etc., 
50 tons of fish, and 670,000 eggs. 

Turning from the Bois de Boulogne, which had 
become our principal ranch and sheep-walk, one 
found companies of National Guards learning the 
" goose-step " in the Champs Elysees and the 
Cours-la-Reine. Regulars were appropriately en- 
camped both in the Avenue de la Grande Armee 
and on the Champ de Mars. Field-guns and caissons 
filled the Tuileries garden, whilst in the grounds of 
the Luxembourg Palace one again found cattle and 
sheep ; yet other members of the bovine and ovine 
species being installed, singularly enough, almost 
cheek by jowl with the hungry wild beasts of the 
Jardin des Plantes, whose mouths fairly watered 
at the sight of their natural prey. If you followed 
the quays of the Seine you there found sightseers 
gazing at the little gunboats and floating batteries 

fpl.lf .. , . 


on the water ; and if you climbed to Montmartre you 
there came upon people watching " The Neptune," 
the captive balloon which Nadar, the aeronaut and 
photographer, had already provided for purposes of 
military observation. I shall have occasion to speak 
of him and his balloons again. 

Among all that I myself saw on that memorable 
Sunday, I was perhaps most struck by the solemn 
celebration of Mass in front of the statue of Strasbourg 
on the Place de la Concorde. The capital of Alsace 
had been besieged since the middle of August, but 
was still offering a firm resistance to the enemy. 
Its chief defenders, General Uhrich and Edmond 
Valentin, were the most popular heroes of the hour. 
The latter had been appointed Prefect of the city by 
the Government of National Defence, and, resolving 
to reach his post in spite of the siege which was being 
actively prosecuted, had disguised himself and passed 
successfully through the German lines, escaping the 
shots which were fired at him. In Paris the statue of 
Strasbourg had become a place of pilgrimage, a sacred 
shrine, as it were, adorned with banners and with 
wreaths innumerable. Yet I certainly had not 
expected to see an altar set up and Mass celebrated 
in front of it, as if it had been, indeed, a statue of 
the Blessed Virgin. 

At this stage of affairs there was no general 
hostility to the Church in Paris. The bourgeoisie 
I speak of its masculine element was as sceptical 
then as it is now, but it knew that General Trochu, 
in whom it placed its trust, was a practising and 
fervent Catholic, and that in taking the Presidency 
of the Government he had made it one of his con- 
ditions that religion should be respected. Such 
animosity as was shown against the priesthood 


emanated from some of the public clubs where the 
future Communards perorated. It was only as 
time went on, and the defence grew more and more 
hopeless, that Trochu himself was denounced as a 
cagot and a souteneur de soutanes ; and not until the 
Commune did the Extremists give full rein to their 
hatred of the Church and its ministers. 

In connection with religion, there was another 
sight which impressed me on that same Sunday. I 
was on the point of leaving the Place de la Concorde 
when a large body of Mobiles debouched either from 
the Rue Royale or the Rue de Rivoli, and I noticed, 
with some astonishment, that not only were they 
accompanied by their chaplains, but that they bore 
aloft several processional religious banners. They 
were Bretons, and had been to Mass, I ascertained, 
at the church of Notre Dame des Victoires the 
favourite church of the Empress Eugenie, who often 
attended early Mass there and were now returning 
to their quarters in the arches of the railway viaduct 
of the Point-du-Jour. Many people uncovered as 
they thus went by processionally, carrying on high 
their banners of the Virgin, she who is invoked by 
the Catholic soldier as " Auxilium Christianorum." 
For a moment my thoughts strayed back to Brit- 
tany, where, during my holidays the previous year, 
I had witnessed the " Pardon " of Guingamp. 

In the evening I went to the Boulevards with my 
father, and we afterwards dropped into one or two 
of the public clubs. The Boulevard promenaders 
had a good deal to talk about. General Ambert, 
who under the Empire had been mayor of our 
arrondissement, had fallen out with his men, through 
speaking contemptuously of the Republic, and after 
being summarily arrested by some of them, had been 


deprived of his command. Further, the Official 
Journal had published a circular addressed by 
Bismarck to the German diplomatists abroad, in 
which he stated formally that if France desired 
peace she would have to give " material guarantees." 
That idea, however, was vigorously pooh-poohed 
by the Boulevardiers, particularly as rumours of 
sudden French successes, originating nobody knew 
how, were once more in the air. Scandal, however, 
secured the attention of many of the people seated in 
the cafes, for the Rappel Victor Hugo's organ 
had that day printed a letter addressed to 
Napoleon III by his mistress Marguerite Bellenger, 
who admitted in it that she had deceived her imperial 
lover with respect to the paternity of her child. 

However, we went, my father and I, from the 
Boulevards to the Folies-Bergere, which had been 
turned for the time into a public club, and there we 
listened awhile to Citizen Lermina, who, taking 
Thiers's mission and Bismarck's despatch as his 
text, protested against France concluding any peace 
or even any armistice so long as the Germans had 
not withdrawn across the frontier. There was still 
no little talk of that description. The old agitator 
Auguste Blanqui long confined in one of the cages 
of Mont Saint-Michel, but now once more in Paris 
never wearied of opposing peace in the discourses 
that he delivered at his own particular club, which, 
like the newspaper he inspired, was called " La Patrie 
en Danger." In other directions, for instance at 
the Club du Maine, the Extremists were alreadv 


attacking the new Government for its delay in 
distributing cartridges to the National Guards, being, 
no doubt, already impatient to seize authority 


Whilst other people were promenading or perorat- 
ing, Trochu, in his room at the Louvre, was receiving 
telegram after telegram informing him that the 
Germans were now fast closing round the city. He 
himself, it appears, had no idea of preventing it ; 
but at the urgent suggestion of his old friend and 
comrade General Ducrot, he had consented that an 
effort should be made to delay, at any rate, a complete 
investment. In an earlier chapter I had occasion 
to mention Ducrot in connexion with the warnings 
which Napoleon III received respecting the military 
preparations of Prussia. At this time, 1870, the 
general was fifty-three years old, and therefore still 
in his prime. As commander of a part of MacMahon's 
forces he had distinguished himself at the battle of 
Worth, and when the Marshal was wounded at Sedan, 
it was he who, by right of seniority, at first assumed 
command of the army, being afterwards compelled, 
however, to relinquish the post to Wimpfen, in 
accordance with an order from Palikao which 
Wimpfen produced. Included at the capitulation, 
among the prisoners taken by the Germans, Ducrot 
subsequently escaped the Germans contending that 
he had broken his parole in doing so, though this 
does not appear to have been the case. Immediately 
afterwards he repaired to Paris to place himself at 
Trochu's disposal. At Worth he had suggested 
certain tactics which might have benefited the French 
army ; at Sedan he had wished to make a supreme 
effort to cut through the German lines ; and now in 
Paris he proposed to Trochu a plan which if success- 
ful might, he thought, retard the investment and 
momentarily cut the German forces in halves. 

In attempting to carry out this scheme (Sep- 
tember 19) Ducrot took with him most of Vinoy's 


corps, that is four divisions of infantry, some cavalry, 
and no little artillery, having indeed, according to 
his own account, seventy-two guns with him. The 
action was fought on the plateau of Chatillon (south 
of Paris), where the French had been constructing a 
redoubt, which was still, however, in a very un- 
finished state. At daybreak that morning all the 
districts of Paris lying on the left bank of the Seine 
were roused by the loud booming of guns. The 
noise was at times almost deafening, and it is certain 
that the French fired a vast number of projectiles, 
though, assuredly, the number 25,000 given in a 
copy of the official report which I have before me 
must be a clerical error. In any case, the Germans 
replied with an even more terrific fire than that of 
the French, and, as had previously happened at 
Sedan and elsewhere, the French ordnance proved to 
be 110 match for that emanating from Krupp's 
renowned workshops. The French defeat was, how- 
ever, precipitated by a sudden panic which arose 
among a provisional regiment of Zouaves, who 
suddenly turned tail and fled. Panic is often, if not 
always, contagious, and so it proved to be on this 
occasion. Though some of the Gardes Mobiles, 
notably the Bretons of Ille-et-Vilaine, fought well, 
thanks to the support of the artillery (which is so 
essential in the case of untried troops), other men 
weakened, and imitated the example of the Zouaves. 
Ducrot soon realized that it was useless to prolong 
the encounter, and after spiking the guns set up in 
the Chatillon redoubt, he retired under the protection 
of the Forts of Vanves and Montrouge. 

My father and I had hastened to the southern 
side of Paris as soon as the cannonade apprised us 
that an engagement was going on. Pitiful was the 


spectacle presented by the disbanded soldiers as they 
rushed down the Chaussee du Maine. Many had 
flung away their weapons. Some went on dejectedly ; 
others burst into wine-shops, demanded drink with 
threats, and presently emerged swearing, cursing 
and shouting, " Nous sommes trahis ! " Riderless 
horses went by, instinctively following the men, and 
here and there one saw a bewildered and indignant 
officer, whose orders were scouted with jeers. The 
whole scene was of evil augury for the defence of 

At a later hour, when we reached the Boulevards, 
we found the wildest rumours in circulation there. 
Nobody knew exactly what had happened, but there 
was talk of 20,000 French troops having been 
annihilated by five times that number of Germans. 
At last a proclamation emanating from Gambetta was 
posted up and eagerly perused. It supplied no 
details of the fighting, but urged the Parisians to give 
way neither to excitement nor to despondency, and 
reminded them that a court-martial had been 
instituted to deal with cowards and deserters. There- 
upon the excitement seemed to subside, and people 
went to dinner. An hour afterwards the Boulevards 
were as gay as ever, thronged once more with 
promenaders, among whom were many officers of the 
Garde Mobile and the usual regiment of painted 
women. Cynicism and frivolity were once more the 
order of the day. But in the midst of it there came 
an unexpected incident. Some of the National 
Guards of the district were not unnaturally disgusted 
by the spectacle which the Boulevards presented 
only a few hours after misfortune had fallen on the 
French arms. Forming, therefore, into a body, 
they marched along, loudly calling upon the cafes to 



close. Particularly were they indignant when, on 
reaching Brebant's Restaurant at the corner of the 
Faubourg Montmartre, they heard somebody playing 
a lively Offenbachian air on a piano there. A party 
of heedless viveurs and demoiselles of the half -world 
were enjoying themselves together as in the palmy 
imperial days. But the piano was soon silenced, 
the cafes and restaurants were compelled to close, 
and the Boulevardian world went home in a slightly 
chastened mood. The Siege of Paris had begun. 


The Surrender of Versailles Captain Johnson, Queen's Messenger No 
more Paris Fashions ! Prussians versus Germans Bismarck's Hard 
Terms for Peace Attempts to pass through the German lanes 
Chartreuse Verte as an Explosive ! Tommy Webb's Party and the 
Germans Couriers and Early Balloons Our Arrangements with 
Nadar Gambetta's Departure and Balloon Journey The Amusing 
Verses of Albert Millaud Siege Jokes and Satire The Spy and Signal 
Craze Amazons to the Rescue ! 

IT was at one o'clock on the afternoon of 
September 19 that the telegraph wires between Paris 
and Versailles, the last which linked us to the outside 
world, were suddenly cut by the enemy ; the town 
so closely associated with the Grand Monarque and 
his magnificence having then surrendered to a very 
small force of Germans, although it had a couple of 
thousand men Mobile and National Guards to 
defend it. The capitulation which was arranged 
between the mayor and the enemy was flagrantly 
violated by the latter almost as soon as it had been 
concluded, this being only one of many such instances 
which occurred during the war. Versailles was 
required to provide the invader with a number of 
oxen, to be slaughtered for food, numerous casks of 
wine, the purpose of which was obvious, and a large 
supply of forage valued at 12,000. After all, however, 
that was a mere trifle in comparison with what the 
present Kaiser's forces would probably demand on 



landing at Hull or Grimsby or Harwich, should they 
some day do so. By the terms of the surrender of 
Versailles, however, the local National Guards were 
to have remained armed and entrusted with the 
internal police of the town, and, moreover, there 
were to have been no further requisitions. But 
Bismarck and Moltke pooh-poohed all such stipula- 
tions, and the Versaillese had to submit to many 

In Paris that day the National Defence Govern- 
ment was busy in various ways, first in imposing 
fines, according to an ascending scale, on all absentees 
who ought to have remained in the city and taken 
their share of military duty ; and, secondly, in decree- 
ing that nobody with any money lodged in the 
Savings Bank should be entitled to draw out more 
than fifty francs, otherwise two pounds, leaving the 
entire balance of his or her deposit at the Govern- 
ment's disposal. This measure provoked no little 
dissatisfaction. It was also on September 19, the 
first day of the siege, that the last diplomatic courier 
entered Paris. I well remember the incident. Whilst 
I was walking along the Faubourg Saint Honore I 
suddenly perceived an open caleche, drawn by a pair 
of horses, bestriding one of which was a postillion 
arrayed in the traditional costume hair a la Catogan, 
jacket with scarlet facings, gold-banded hat, huge 
boots, and all the other appurtenances which one 
saw during long years on the stage in Adolphe 
Adam's sprightly but " impossible " opera-comique 
" Le Postilion de Longjumeau." For an instant, 
indeed, I felt inclined to hum the famous refrain, 
" Oh, oh, oh, oh, qu'il etait beau " but many 
National Guards and others regarded the equipage 
with great suspicion, particularly as it was occupied 


by an individual in semi-military attire. Quite a 
number of people decided in their own minds that 
this personage must be a Prussian spy, and therefore 
desired to stop his carriage and march him off to 
prison. As a matter of fact, however, he was a 
British officer, Captain Johnson, discharging the 
duties of a Queen's Messenger ; and as he repeatedly 
nourished a cane in a very menacing manner, 
and the door-porter of the British Embassy a 
German, I believe energetically came to his assist- 
ance, he escaped actual molestation, and drove in 
triumph into the courtyard of the ambassadorial 

At this time a great shock was awaiting the 
Parisians. During the same week the Vicomtesse de 
Renneville issued an announcement stating that in 
presence of the events which were occurring she was 
constrained to suspend the publication of her re- 
nowned journal of fashions, La Gazette Rose. This 
was a tragic blow both for the Parisians themselves 
and for all the world beyond them. There would be 
no more Paris fashions ! To what despair would not 
millions of women be reduced ? How would they 
dress, even supposing that they should contrive to 
dress at all ? The thought was appalling ; and as 
one and another great couturier closed his doors, 
Paris began to realize that her prestige was indeed 
in jeopardy. 

A day or two after the investment the city 
became very restless on account of Thiers's mission 
to foreign Courts and Jules Favre's visit to the 
German headquarters, it being reported by the 
extremists that the Government did not intend to 
be a Government of National Defence but one of 
Capitulation. In reply to those rumours the 


authorities issued the famous proclamation in which 
they said : 

" The Government's policy is that formulated in these terms : 


The Government will maintain it to the end." 

On the morrow, September 21, Gambetta per- 
sonally reminded us that it was the seventy-eighth 
anniversary of the foundation of the first French 
Republic, and, after recalling to the Parisians what 
their fathers had then accomplished, he exhorted 
them to follow that illustrious example, and to 
" secure victory by confronting death." That same 
evening the clubs decided that a great demonstration 
should be made on the morrow by way of insisting 
that no treaty should be discussed until the Germans 
had been driven out of France, that no territory, 
fort, vessel, or treasure should be surrendered, that 
all elections should be adjourned, and that a levee 
en masse should be decreed. Jules Favre responded 
that he and his colleagues personified Defence and 
not Surrender, and Rochefort poor Rochefort ! 
solemnly promised that the barricades of Paris 
should be begun that very night. That undertaking 
mightily pleased the agitators, though the use of 
the said barricades was not apparent ; and the 
demonstrators dispersed with the usual shouts of 
" Vive la Republique ! Mort aux Prussiens ! " 

In connexion with that last cry it was a curious 
circumstance that from the beginning to the end of 
the war the French persistently ignored the presence 
of Saxons, Wiirtembergers, Hessians, Badeners, and 
so forth in the invading armies. Moreover, on only 
one or two occasions (such as the Bazeilles episode 


of the battle of Sedan) did they evince any par- 
ticular animosity against the Bavarians. I must 
have heard " Death to the Prussians ! " shouted at 
least a thousand times ; but most certainly I never 
once heard a single cry of " Death to the Germans ! " 
Still in the same connexion, let me mention that it 
was in Paris, during the siege, that the eminent 
naturalist and biologist Quatrefages de Breau wrote 
that curious little book of his, "La Race Prussienne," 
in which he contended that the Prussians were not 
Germans at all. There was at least some measure of 
truth in the views which he enunciated. 

As I previously indicated, Jules Favre, the 
Foreign Minister of the National Defence, had gone 
to the German headquarters in order to discuss 
the position with Prince (then Count) Bismarck. 
He met him twice, first at the Comte de Rillac's 
Chateau de la Haute Maison, and secondly at Baron 
de Rothschild's Chateau de Ferrieres the German 
staff usually installing itself in the lordly "pleasure- 
houses " of the French noble or financial aristocracy, 
and leaving them as dirty as possible, and, naturally, 
bereft of their timepieces. Baron Alphonse de 
Rothschild told me in later years that sixteen clocks 
were carried off from Ferrieres whilst King (after- 
wards the Emperor) William and Bismarck were 
staying there. I presume that they now decorate 
some of the salons of the schloss at Berlin, or possibly 
those of Varzin and Friedrichsruhe. Bismarck per- 
sonally had an inordinate passion for clocks, as all 
who ever visited his quarters in the Wilhelm- 
strasse, when he was German Chancellor, will 
well remember. 

But he was not content with the clocks of 
Ferrieres. He told Jules Favre that if France 


desired peace she must surrender the two depart- 
ments of the Upper and the Lower Rhine, a part of 
the department of the Moselle, together with Metz, 
Chateau Salins, and Soissons; and he would only 
grant an armistice (to allow of the election of a 
French National Assembly to decide the question 
of War or Peace) on condition that the Germans 
should occupy Strasbourg, Toul, and Phalsburg, 
together with a fortress, such as Mont Valerien, 
commanding the city of Paris. Such conditions 
naturally stiffened the backs of the French, and for 
a time there was no more talk of negotiating. 

During the earlier days of the Siege of Paris I 
came into contact with various English people who, 
having delayed their departure until it was too late, 
found themselves shut up in the city, and were 
particularly anxious to depart from it. The British 
Embassy gave them no help in the matter. Having 
issued its paltry notice in Galignani's Messenger, 
it considered that there was no occasion for it to do 
anything further. Moreover, Great Britain had not 
recognized the French Republic, so that the position 
of Mr. Wodehouse was a somewhat difficult one. 
However, a few " imprisoned " Englishmen en- 
deavoured to escape from the city by devices of their 
own. Two of them who set out together, fully 
expecting to get through the German lines and 
then reach a convenient railway station, followed the 
course of the Seine for several miles without being 
able to cross it, and in spite of their waving pocket- 
handkerchiefs (otherwise flags of truce) and their 
constant shouts of " English ! Friends ! " and so 
forth, were repeatedly fired at by both French and 
German outposts. At last they reached Rueil, 
where the villagers, on noticing how bad their French 


was, took them to be Prussian spies, and nearly 
lynched them. Fortunately, the local commissary 
of police believed their story, and they were sent 
back to Paris to face the horseflesh and the many 
other hardships which they had particularly desired 
to avoid. 

I also remember the representative of a Birming- 
ham small-arms factory telling me of his unsuccessful 
attempt to escape. He had lingered in Paris in the 
hope of concluding a contract with the new Republi- 
can Government. Not having sufficient money to 
charter a balloon, and the Embassy, as usual at that 
time, refusing any help (O shades of Palmerston !), 
he set out as on a walking-tour with a knapsack 
strapped to his shoulders and an umbrella in his 
hand. His hope was to cross the Seine by the bridge 
of Saint Cloud or that of Suresnes, but he failed in 
both attempts, and was repeatedly fired upon by 
vigilant French outposts. After losing his way in 
the Bois de Boulogne, awakening both the cattle and 
the sheep there in the course of his nightly ramble, 
he at last found one of the little huts erected to 
shelter the gardeners and wood-cutters, and remained 
there until daybreak, when he was able to take his 
bearings and proceed towards the Auteuil gate of 
the ramparts. As he did not wish to be fired upon 
again, he deemed it expedient to hoist his pocket 
handkerchief at the end of his umbrella as a sign of 
his pacific intentions, and finding the gate open and 
the drawbridge down, he attempted to enter the 
city, but was immediately challenged by the National 
Guards on duty. These vigilant patriots observed 
his muddy condition the previous day had been a 
wet one and suspiciously inquired where he had 
come from at that early hour. His answer being 


given in broken French and in a very embarrassed 
manner, he was at once regarded as a Prussian spy, 
and dragged off to the guard-room. There he was 
carefully searched, and everything in his pockets 
having been taken from him, including a small bottle 
which the sergeant on duty regarded with grave 
suspicion, he was told that his after-fate would be 
decided when the commanding officer of that par- 
ticular secteur of the ramparts made his rounds. 

When this officer arrived he closely questioned 
the prisoner, who tried to explain his circumstances, 
and protested that his innocence was shown by the 
British passport and other papers which had been 
taken from him. " Oh ! papers prove nothing ! " 
was the prompt retort. " Spies are always provided 
with papers. But, come, I have proof that you are 
an unmitigated villain ! ' : So saying, the officer 
produced the small bottle which had been taken 
from the unfortunate traveller, and added : " You 
see this ? You had it hi your pocket. Now, don't 
attempt to deceive me, for I know very well what is 
the nature of the green liquid which it contains it 
is a combustible fluid with which you wanted to set 
fire to our chevaux-de-frise ! " 

Denials and protests were in vain. The officer 
refused to listen to his prisoner until the latter at 
last offered to drink some of the terrible fluid in order 
to prove that it was not at all what it was supposed 
to be. With a little difficulty the tight-fitting cork 
was removed from the flask, and on the latter being 
handed to the prisoner he proceeded to imbibe some 
of its contents, the officer, meanwhile, retiring to a 
short distance, as if he imagined that the alleged 
'* spy " would suddenly explode. Nothing of that 
kind happened, however. Indeed, the prisoner drank 


the terrible stuff with relish, smacked his lips, and 
even prepared to take a second draught, when the 
officer, feeling reassured, again drew near to him and 
expressed his willingness to sample the suspected 
fluid himself. He did so, and at once discovered that 
it was purely and simply some authentic Chartreuse 
verte ! It did not take the pair of them long to 
exhaust this supply of the liqueur of St. Bruno, and 
as soon as this was done, the prisoner was set at 
liberty with profuse apologies. 

Now and again some of those who attempted to 
leave the beleaguered city succeeded in their attempt. 
In one instance a party of four or five Englishmen ran 
the blockade in the traditional carriage and pair. 
They had been staying at the Grand Hotel, where 
another seven or eight visitors, including Labouchere, 
still remained, together with about the same number 
of servants to wait upon them ; the famous cara- 
vanserai then undoubtedly the largest in Paris 
being otherwise quite untenanted. The carriage in 
which the party I have mentioned took their de- 
parture was driven by an old English jockey named 
Tommy Webb, who had been in France for nearly 
half a century, and had ridden the winners of some of 
the very first races started by the French Jockey 
Club. Misfortune had overtaken him, however, 
in his declining years, and he had become a mere 
Parisian " cabby." The party sallied forth from 
the courtyard of the Grand Hotel, taking with it 
several huge hampers of provisions and a quantity 
of other luggage ; and all the participants in the 
attempt seemed to be quite confident of success. 
But a few hours later they returned in sore dis- 
appointment, having been stopped near Neuilly by 
the French outposts, as they were unprovided with 



any official laisser-passer. A document of that 
description having been obtained, however, from 
General Trochu on the morrow, a second attempt 
was made, and this time the party speedily passed 
through the French lines. But in trying to penetrate 
those of the enemy, some melodramatic adventures 
occurred. It became necessary, indeed, to dodge 
both the bullets of the Germans and those of the 
French Francs-tireurs, who paid not the slightest 
respect either to the Union Jack or to the large white 
flag which were displayed on either side of Tommy 
Webb's box-seat. At last, after a variety of mis- 
haps, the party succeeded in parleying with a German 
cavalry officer, and after they had addressed a written 
appeal to the Crown Prince of Prussia (who was 
pleased to grant it), they were taken, blindfolded, to 
Versailles, where Blumenthal, the Crown Prince's 
Chief of Staff, asked them for information respect- 
ing the actual state of Paris, and then allowed them 
to proceed on their way. 

Captain Johnson, the Queen's Messenger of whom 
I have already spoken, also contrived to quit Paris 
again ; but the Germans placed him under strict 
surveillance, and Blumenthal told him that no more 
Queen's Messengers would be allowed to pass through 
the German lines. About this same time, however, 
the English man-servant of one of Trochu' s aides- 
de-camp contrived, not only to reach Saint Germain- 
en-Laye, where his master's family was residing, but 
also to return to Paris with messages. This young 
fellow had cleverly disguised himself as a French 
peasant, and on the Prefect of Police hearing of his 
adventures, he sent out several detectives in similar 
disguises, with instructions to ascertain all they 
could about the enemy, and report the same to him. 


Meantime, the Paris Post Office was endeavouring 
to send out couriers. One of them, named Letoile, 
managed to get as far as Evreux, in Normandy, and 
to return to the beleaguered city with a couple of 
hundred letters. Success also repeatedly attended 
the efforts of two shrewd fellows named Geme and 
Brare, who made several journeys to Saint Germain, 
Triel, and even Orleans. On one occasion they 
brought as many as seven hundred letters with 
them on their return to Paris ; but between twenty 
and thirty other couriers failed to get through 
the German lines ; whilst several others fell into the 
hands of the enemy, who at once confiscated the 
correspondence they carried, but did not otherwise 
molest them. 

The difficulty in sending letters out of Paris and 
in obtaining news from relatives and friends in other 
parts of France led to all sorts of schemes. The 
founder and editor of that well-known journal Le 
Figaro, Hippolyte de Villemessant, as he called him- 
self, though I believe that his real Christian name 
was Auguste, declared in his paper that he would 
willingly allow his veins to be opened in return for a 
few lines from his beloved and absent wife. Conjugal 
affection could scarcely have gone further. Ville- 
messant, however, followed up his touching declara- 
tion by announcing that a thousand francs (40) 
a week was to be earned by a capable man willing 
to act as letter-carrier between Paris and the pro- 
vinces. All who felt qualified for the post were 
invited to present themselves at the office of Le, 
Figaro, which in those days was appropriately 
located in the Rue Rossini, named, of course, after 
the illustrious composer who wrote such sprightly 
music round the theme of Beaumarchais 5 comedy. 


As a result of Villemessant's announcement, the street 
was blocked during the next forty-eight hours by 
men of all classes, who were all the more eager to 
earn the aforesaid 40 a week as nearly every kind 
of work was at a standstill, and the daily stipend of 
a National Guard amounted only to Is. 2%d. 

It was difficult to choose from among so many 
candidates, but we were eventually assured that the 
right man had been found in the person of a retired 
poacher who knew so well how to circumvent both 
rural guards and forest guards, that during a career 
of twenty years or so he had never once been caught 
in flagrante delicto. Expert, moreover, in tracking 
game, he would also well know how to detect and 
to avoid the tracks of the Prussians. We were 
therefore invited to confide our correspondence to 
this sagacious individual, who would undertake to 
carry it through the German lines and to return with 
the answers in a week or ten days. The charge for 
each letter, which was to be of very small weight and 
dimensions, was fixed at five francs, and it was 
estimated that the ex-poacher would be able to carry 
about 200 letters on each journey. 

Many people were anxious to try the scheme, but 
rival newspapers denounced it as being a means of 
acquainting the Prussians with everything which 
was occurring in Paris Villemessant, who they 
declared had taken bribes from the fallen Empire, 
being probably one of Bismarck's paid agents. 
Thus the enterprise speedily collapsed without even 
being put to the proof. However, the public was 
successfully exploited by various individuals who 
attempted to improve on Villemessant's idea, under- 
taking to send letters out of Paris for a fixed charge, 
half of which was to be returned to the sender if his 


letter were not delivered. As none of the letters 
handed in on these conditions was even entrusted to 
a messenger, the ingenious authors of this scheme 
made a handsome profit, politely returning half of 
the money which they received, but retaining the 
balance without making the slightest effort to carry 
out their contract. 

Dr. Rampont, a very clever man, who was now 
our postmaster-general, had already issued a circular 
bidding us to use the very thinnest paper and the 
smallest envelopes procurable. There being so many 
failures among the messengers whom he sent out of 
Paris with correspondence, the idea of a balloon 
postal service occurred to him. Although ninety 
years or so had elapsed since the days of the brothers 
Montgolfier, aeronautics had really made very little 
progress. There were no dirigible balloons at all. 
Dupuy de Lome's first experiments only dated from 
the siege days, and Renard's dirigible was not 
devised until the early eighties. We only had the 
ordinary type of balloon at our disposal ; and at 
the outset of the investment there were certainly 
not more than half a dozen balloons within our lines. 
A great city like Paris, however, is not without 
resources. Everything needed for the construction 
of balloons could be found there. Gas also was pro- 
curable, and we had amongst us quite a number of 
men expert in the science of ballooning, such as it 
then was. There was Nadar, there was Tissandier, 
there were the Godard brothers, Yon, Dartois, and 
a good many others. Both the Godards and Nadar 
established balloon factories, which were generally 
located in our large disused railway stations, such as 
the Gare du Nord, the Gare d' Orleans, and the Gare 
Montparnasse ; but I also remember visiting one 


which Nadar installed in the dancing hall called the 
Elysee Moiitmartre. Each of these factories pro- 
vided work for a good many people, and I recollect 
being particularly struck by the number of women 
who were employed in balloon-making. Such work 
was very helpful to them, and Nadar used to say to 
me that it grieved him to have to turn away so many 
applicants for employment, for every day ten, 
twenty, and thirty women would come to implore 
him to " take them on." Nearly all their usual work- 
rooms were closed; some were reduced to live on 
charity and only very small allowances, from five- 
pence to seven pence a day, were made to the wives 
and families of National Guards. 

But to return to the balloon postal-service which 
the Government organized, it was at once realized by 
my father and myself that it could be of little use 
to us so far as the work for the Illustrated London 
News was concerned, on account of the restrictions 
which were imposed in regard to the size and weight 
of each letter that might be posted. The weight, 
indeed, was fixed at no more than three grammes ! 
Now, there were a number of artists working for the 
Illustrated in Paris, first and foremost among them 
being M. Jules Pelcoq, who must personally have 
supplied two-thirds of the sketches by which the 
British public was kept acquainted with the many 
incidents of Parisian siege-life. The weekly diary 
which I helped my father to compile could be drawn 
up in small handwriting on very thin, almost trans- 
parent paper, and despatched in the ordinary way. 
But how were we to circumvent the authorities in 
regard to our sketches, which were often of consider- 
able size, and were always made on fairly substantial 
paper, the great majority of them being wash- 


drawings ? Further, though I could prepare two or 
three drafts of our diary or our other " copy " for 
despatch by successive balloons to provide for the 
contingency of one of the latter falling into the hands 
of the enemy it seemed absurd that our artists 
should have to recopy every sketch they made. 
Fortunately, there was photography, the thought of 
which brought about a solution of the other difficulty 
in which we were placed. 

I was sent to interview Nadar on the Place Saint 
Pierre at Montmartre, above which his captive 
balloon the " Neptune " was oscillating in the 
September breeze. He was much the same man as 
I had seen at the Crystal Palace a few years pre- 
viously,* tall, red-haired, and red-shirted. He had 
begun life as a caricaturist and humorous writer, 
but by way of buttering his bread had set up in 
business as a photographer, his establishment on the 
Boulevard de la Madeleine soon becoming very 
favourably known. There was still a little " portrait- 
taking " in Paris during those early siege days. 
Photographs of the celebrities or notorieties of the 
hour sold fairly well, and every now and again some 
National Guard with means was anxious to be 
photographed in his uniform. But, naturally enough, 
the business generally had declined. Thus, Nadar 
was only too pleased to entertain the proposal which 
I made to him on my father's behalf, this being that 
every sketch for the Illustrated should be taken to 
his establishment and there photographed, so that 
we might be able to send out copies in at least three 
successive balloons. 

When I broached to Nadar the subject of the 
postal regulations in regard to the weight and size 

* See p. 14, ante. 


of letters, he genially replied : " Leave that to me. 
Your packets need not go through the ordinary post 
at all at least, here in Paris. Have them stamped, 
however, bring them whenever a balloon is about to 
sail, and I will see that the aeronaut takes them in 
his pocket. Wherever he alights they will be posted, 
like the letters in the official bags." 

That plan was carried out, and although several 
balloons were lost or fell within the German lines, 
only one small packet of sketches, which, on account 
of urgency, had not been photographed, remained 
subsequently unaccounted for. In all other instances 
either the original drawing or one of the photo- 
graphic copies of it reached London safely. 

The very first balloon to leave Paris (in the early 
days of October) was precisely Nadar's " Neptune," 
which had originally been intended for purposes of 
military observation. One day when I was with 
Nadar on the Place Saint Pierre, he took me up in 
it. I found the experience a novel but not a pleasing 
one, for all my life I have had a tendency to vertigo 
when ascending to any unusual height. I remember 
that it was a clear day, and that we had a fine 
bird's-eye view of Paris on the one hand and of the 
plain of Saint Denis on the other, but I confess that 
I felt out of my element, and was glad to set foot on 
terra firma once more. 

From that day I was quite content to view the 
ascent of one and another balloon, without feeling 
any desire to get out of Paris by its aerial transport 
service. I must have witnessed the departure of 
practically all the balloons which left Paris until I 
myself quitted the city in November. The arrange- 
ments made with Nadar were perfected, and some- 
thing very similar was contrived with the Godard 


brothers, the upshot being that we were always 
forewarned whenever it was proposed to send off a 
balloon. Sometimes we received by messenger, in 
the evening, an intimation that a balloon would 
start at daybreak on the morrow. Sometimes we 
were roused in the small hours of the morning, when 
everything intended for despatch had to be hastily 
got together and carried at once to the starting- 
place, such, for instance, as the Northern or the 
Orleans railway terminus, both being at a con- 
siderable distance from our flat in the Rue de 
Miromesnil. Those were by no means agreeable 
walks, especially when the cold weather had set in, 
as it did early that autumn ; and every now and again 
at the end of the journey one found that it had been 
made in vain, for, the wind having shifted at the last 
moment, the departure of the balloon had been 
postponed. Of course, the only thing to be done was 
to trudge back home again. There was no omnibus 
service, all the horses having been requisitioned, and 
in the latter part of October there were not more than 
a couple of dozen cabs (drawn by decrepit animals) 
still plying for hire in all Paris. Thus Shanks's pony 
was the only means of locomotion. 

In the earlier days my father accompanied me 
on a few of those expeditions, but he soon grew tired 
of them, particularly as his health became affected 
by the siege diet. We were together, however, when 
Gambetta took his departure on October 7, ascending 
from the Place Saint Pierre in a balloon constructed 
by Nadar. It had been arranged that he should 
leave for the provinces, in order to reinforce the three 
Government delegates who had been despatched 
thithef prior to the investment. Jules Favre, the 
Foreign Minister, had been previously urged to join 


those delegates, but would not trust himself to a 
balloon, and it was thereupon proposed to Gambetta 
that he should do so. He willingly assented to the 
suggestion, particularly as he feared that the rest of 
the country was being overlooked, owing to the pre- 
vailing opinion that Paris would suffice to deliver 
both herself and all the rest of France from the 
presence of the enemy. Born in April, 1838, he was 
at this time in his thirty-third year, and full of 
vigour, as the sequel showed. The delegates whom 
he was going to join were, as I previously mentioned, 
very old men, well meaning, no doubt, but incapable 
of making the great effort which was made by Gam- 
betta in conjunction with Charles de Freycinet, who 
was just in his prime, being the young Dictator's 
senior by some ten years. 

I can still picture Gambetta's departure, and 
particularly his appearance on the occasion his fur 
cap and his fur coat, which made him look somewhat 
like a Polish Jew. He had with him his secretary, 
the devoted Spuller. I cannot recall the name of 
the aeronaut who was in charge of the balloon, but, 
if my memory serves me rightly, it was precisely to 
him that Nadar handed the packet of sketches which 
failed to reach the Illustrated London News.* They 
must have been lost in the confusion of the aerial 
voyage, which was marked by several dramatic 
incidents. Some accounts say that Gambetta 
evinced no little anxiety during the preparations for 
the ascent, but to me he appeared to be in a re- 
markably good humour, as if, indeed, in pleasurable 
anticipation of what he was about to experience. 
When, in response to the call of " Lachez tout ! " the 
seamen released the last cables which had hitherto 

* See p. 120, ante. 


prevented the balloon from rising, and the crowd 
burst into shouts of " Vive la Republique ! " and 
" Vive Gambetta ! " the " youthful statesman," as 
he was then called, leant over the side of the car and 
waved his cap in response to the plaudits.* 

The journey was eventful, for the Germans 
repeatedly fired at the balloon. A first attempt at 
descent had to be abandoned when the car was at 
an altitude of no more than 200 feet, for at that 
moment some German soldiers were seen almost 
immediately beneath it. They fired, and before the 
balloon could rise again a bullet grazed Gambetta's 
head. At four o'clock in the afternoon, however, 
the descent was renewed near Roye in the Somme, 
when the balloon was caught in an oak-tree, Gam- 
betta at one moment hanging on to the ropes of the 
car, with his head downward. Some countryfolk 
came up in great anger, taking the party to be 
Prussians ; but, on learning the truth, they rendered 
all possible assistance, and Gambetta and his com- 
panions repaired to the house of the mayor of the 
neighbouring village of Tricot. Alluding in after 
days to his experiences on this journey, the great 
man said that the earth, as seen by him from the car 
of the balloon, looked like a huge carpet woven 
chance-wise with different coloured wools. It did 
not impress him at all, he added, as it was really 
nothing but " une vilaine chinoiserie." It was 
from Rouen, where he arrived on the following day, 
that he issued the famous proclamation in which he 
called on France to make a compact with victory or 
death. On October 9, he joined the other delegates 

* Another balloon, the " George Sand," ascended at the same time, 
having in its car various officials who were to negotiate the purchase of 
fire-arms in the United States. 


at Tours and took over the post of Minister of War 
as well as that of Minister of the Interior. 

His departure from the capital was celebrated by 
that clever versifier of the period, Albert Millaud, 
who contributed to Le Figaro an amusing effusion, 
the first verse of which was to this effect : 

" Gambetta, pale and gloomy, 

Much wished to go to Tours, 
But two hundred thousand Prussians 

In his project made him pause. 
To aid the youthful statesman 

Came the aeronaut Nadar, 
Who sent up the ' Armand Barbes ' 

With Gambetta in its car." 

Further on came the following lines, supposed 
to be spoken by Gambetta himself whilst he was 
gazing at the German lines beneath him 

" See how the plain is glistening 

With their helmets in a mass ! 
Impalement would be dreadful 

On those spikes of polished brass ! " 

Millaud, who was a Jew, the son, I think or, at 
all events, a near relation of the famous founder of 
Le Petit Journal, the advent of which constituted 
a great landmark in the history of the French Press 
set himself, during several years of his career, to 
prove the truth of the axiom that in France " tout 
finit par des chansons." During those anxious siege 
days he was for ever striving to sound a gay note, 
something which, for a moment, at all events, might 
drive dull care away. Here is an English version of 
some verses which he wrote on Nadar : 

" What a strange fellow is Nadar, 

Photographer and aeronaut ! 
He is as clever as Godard. 

What a strange fellow is Nadar, 
Although, between ourselves, as far 

As art's concerned he knoweth naught. 
What a strange fellow is Nadar, 

Photographer and aeronaut ! 


" To guide the course of a balloon 

His mind conceived the wondrous screw* 
Some day he hopes unto the moon 

To guide the course of a balloon. 
Of ' airy navies ' admiral soon, 

We'll see him ' grappling in the blue ' 
To guide the course of a balloon 

His mind conceived the wondrous screw. 

" Up in the kingdom of the air 

He now the foremost rank may claim. 
If poor Gambetta when up there, 

Up in the kingdom of the air, 
Does not find good cause to stare, 

Why, Nadar will not be to blame. 
Up in the kingdom of the air 

He now the foremost rank may claim. 

" At Ferrieres, above the park, 

Behold him darting through the sky, 
Soaring to heaven like a lark, 

At Ferrieres above the park ; 
Whilst William whispers to Bismarck 

' Silence, see Nadar there on high ! ' 
At Ferrieres above the park 

Behold him darting through the sky. 

" Oh, thou more hairy than King Clodion, 

Bearer on high of this report, 
Thou yellower than a pure Cambodian, 

And far more daring than King Clodion, 
We'll cast thy statue in collodion 

And mount it on a gas retort. 
Oh, thou more hairy than King Clodion, 

Bearer on high of this report ! " 

Perhaps it may not be thought too pedantic on my 
part if I explain that the King Clodion referred to in 
Millaud's last verse was the legendary " Clodion the 
Hairy," a supposed fifth-century leader of the Franks, 
reputed to be a forerunner of the founder of the 
Merovingian dynasty. Nadar's hair, however, was 
not long like that of les rois chevelus, for it was simply 
a huge curly and somewhat reddish mop. As for 
his complexion, Millaud's phrase, " yellow as a pure 
Cambodian," was a happy thought. 

These allusions to Millaud's sprightly verse 


remind me that throughout the siege of Paris the so- 
called mot pour rire was never once lost sight of. 
At all times and in respect to everything there was 
a superabundance of jests jests on the Germans, the 
National and the Mobile Guard, the fallen dynasty, 
and the new Republic, the fruitless sorties, the 
wretched rations, the failing gas, and many other 
people and things. One of the enemy's generals 
was said to have remarked one day : "I don't know 
how to satisfy my men. They complain of hunger, 
and yet I lead them every morning to the slaughter- 
house." At another time a French colonel, of con- 
servative ideas, was said to have replaced the in- 
scription " Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," which he 
found painted on the walls of his barracks, by the 
words, "Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery," declaring 
that the latter were far more likely to free the 
country of the presence of the hated enemy. As for 
the " treason " mania, which was very prevalent at 
this time, it was related that a soldier remarked one 
day to a comrade : " I am sure that the captain is 
a traitor ! " " Indeed ! How's that ? " was the 
prompt rejoinder. ' Well," said the suspicious 
private, " have you not noticed that every time he 
orders us to march forward we invariably encounter 
the enemy ? " 

When Trochu issued a decree incorporating all 
National Guards, under forty-five years of age, in 
the marching battalions for duty outside the city, 
one of these Guards, on being asked how old he was, 
replied, " six-and-forty." " How is that ? " he was 
asked. " A few weeks ago, you told everybody that 
you were only thirty-six." " Quite true," rejoined 
the other, " but what with rampart-duty, demon- 
strating at the H6tel-de-Ville, short rations, and the 


cold weather, I feel quite ten years older than I 
formerly did." When horseflesh became more or 
less our daily provender, many Parisian bourgeois 
found their health failing. " What is the matter, 
my dearest ? " Madame du Bois du Pont inquired of 
her husband, when he had collapsed one evening after 
dinner. " Oh ! it is nothing, mon amie" he replied ; 
" I dare say I shall soon feel well again, but I used to 
think myself a better horseman ! " 

Directly our supply of gas began to fail, the wags 
insinuated that Henri Rochefort was jubilant, and 
if you inquired the reason thereof, you were told that 
owing to the scarcity of gas everybody would be 
obliged to buy hundreds of " Lanternes." We had, 
of course, plenty of sensations in those days, but if 
you wished to cap every one of them you merely had 
to walk into a cafe and ask the waiter for a railway 

Once before I referred to the caricatures of the 
period, notably to those libelling the Emperor 
Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, the latter 
being currently personified as Messalina or even as 
something worse, and this, of course, without the 
faintest shadow of justification. But the caricaturists 
were not merely concerned with the fallen dynasty. 
One of the principal cartoonists of the Charivari 
at that moment was " Cham," otherwise the Vicomte 
Amedee de Noe, an old friend of my family's. It 
was he, by the way, who before the war insisted on 
my going to a fencing-school, saying : " Look here, 
if you mean to live in France and be a journalist, you 
must know how to hold a sword. Come with me 
to Ruze's. I taught your uncle Frank and his friend 
Gustave Dore how to fence many years ago, and now 
I am going to have you taught." Well, in one of 


his cartoons issued during the siege, Cham (disgusted, 
like most Frenchmen, at the seeming indifference of 
Great Britain to the plight in which France found 
herself) summed up the situation, as he conceived it, 
by depicting the British Lion licking the boots of 
Bismarck, who was disguised as Davy Crockett. 
When my father remonstrated with Cham on the 
subject, reminding him of his own connexion with 
England, the indignant caricaturist replied : " Don't 
speak of it. I have renounced England and all her 
works." He, like other Frenchmen of the time, 
contended that we had placed ourselves under great 
obligations to France at the period of the Crimean 

Among the best caricatures of the siege-days was 
one by Daumier, which showed Death appearing to 
Bismarck in his sleep, and murmuring softly, 
" Thanks, many thanks." Another idea of the 
period found expression in a cartoon representing 
a large mouse- trap, labelled " France," into which 
a company of mice dressed up as German soldiers 
were eagerly marching, their officer meanwhile 
pointing to a cheese fixed inside the trap, and inscribed 
with the name of Paris. Below the design ran the 
legend : " Ah ! if we could only catch them all 
in it ! " Many, indeed most, of the caricatures 
of the time did not appear in the so-called 
humorous journals, but were issued separately at 
a penny apiece, and were usually coloured by the 
stencilling process. In one of them, I remember, 
Bismarck was seen wearing seven-league boots 
and making ineffectual attempts to step from 
Versailles to Paris. Another depicted the King of 
Prussia as Butcher William, knife in hand and attired 
in the orthodox slaughter-house costume ; whilst in 


yet another design the same monarch was shown 
urging poor Death, who had fallen exhausted in the 
snow, with his scythe lying broken beside him, to 
continue on the march until the last of the French 
nation should be exterminated. Of caricatures repre- 
senting cooks in connexion with cats there was no 
end, the lapin de gouttiere being in great demand for 
the dinner-table ; and, after Gambetta had left us, 
there were designs showing the armies of succour 
(which were to be raised in the provinces) endeavour- 
ing to pass ribs of beef, fat geese, legs of mutton, and 
strings of sausages over several rows of German 
helmets, gathered round a bastion labelled Paris, 
whence a famished National Guard, eager for the 
proffered provisions, was trying to spring, but could 
not do so owing to the restraining arm of General 

Before the investment began Paris was already 
afflicted with a spy mania. Sala's adventure, which 
I recounted in an earlier chapter, was in a way con- 
nected with this delusion, which originated with the 
cry " We are betrayed ! " immediately after the first 
French reverses. The instances of so-called " spyo- 
phobia ' y were innumerable, and often curious and 
amusing. There was a slight abatement of the 
mania when, shortly before the siege, 188,000 Germans 
were expelled from Paris, leaving behind them only 
some 700 old folk, invalids, and children, who were 
unable to obey the Government's decree. But the 
disease soon revived, and we heard of rag-pickers 
having their baskets ransacked by zealous National 
Guards, who imagined that these receptacles might 
contain secret despatches or contraband ammunition. 
On another occasion Le Figaro wickedly suggested 
that all the blind beggars in Paris were spies, with 



the result that several poor infirm old creatures were 
abominably ill-treated. Again, a fugitive sheet 
called Les Nouvelles denounced all the English 
residents as spies. Labouchere was one of those 
pounced upon by a Parisian mob in consequence of 
that idiotic denunciation, but as he had the presence 
of mind to invite those who assailed him to go with 
him to the nearest police-station, he was speedily 
released. On two occasions my father and myself 
were arrested and carried to guard-houses, and in 
the course of those experiences we discovered that 
the beautifully engraved but essentially ridiculous 
British passport, which recited all the honours and 
dignities of the Secretary of State or the Ambassador 
delivering it, but gave not the slightest information 
respecting the person to whom it had been delivered 
(apart, that is, from his or her name), was of infinitely 
less value in the eyes of a French officer than a receipt 
for rent or a Parisian tradesman's bill.* 

But let me pass to other instances. One day an 
unfortunate individual, working in the Paris sewers, 
was espied by a zealous National Guard, who at once 
gave the alarm, declaring that there was a German 
spy in the aforesaid sewers, and that he was de- 
positing bombs there with the intention of blowing 
up the city. Three hundred Guards at once volun- 
teered their services, stalked the poor workman, and 
blew him to pieces the next time he popped his head 
out of a sewer-trap. The mistake was afterwards 
deplored, but people argued (wrote Mr. Thomas 
Gibson Bowles, who sent the story to The Morning 
Post) that it was far better that a hundred innocent 
Frenchmen should sutler than that a single Prussian 

* That was forty-three years ago. The British passport, however, 
remains to-day as unsatisfactory as it was then. 


should escape. Cham, to whom I previously alluded, 
old Marshal Vaillant, Mr. O'Sullivan, an American 
diplomatist, and Alexis Godillot, the French army 
contractor, were among the many well-known people 
arrested as spies at one or another moment. A 
certain Mme: de Beaulieu, who had joined a regiment 
of Mobiles as a cantiniere, was denounced as a spy 
" because her hands were so white." Another lady, 
who had installed an ambulance in her house, was 
carried off to prison on an equally frivolous pretext ; 
and I remember yet another case in which a lady 
patron of the Societe de Secours aux Blesses was 
ill-treated. Matters would, however, probably be 
far worse at the present time, for Paris, with all her 
apaches and anarchists, now includes in her popula- 
tion even more scum than was the case three-and- 
f orty years ago. 

There were, however, a few authentic instances 
of spying, one case being that of a young fellow 
whom Etienne Arago, the Mayor of Paris, engaged 
as a secretary, on the recommendation of Henri 
Rochefort, but who turned out to be of German 
extraction, and availed himself of his official position 
to draw up reports which were forwarded by balloon 
post to an agent of the German Government in 
London. I have forgotten the culprit's name, but 
it will be found, with particulars of his case, in the 
Paris journals of the siege days. There was, more- 
over, the Hardt affair, which resulted in the prisoner, 
a former lieutenant in the Prussian army, being 
convicted of espionage and shot in the courtyard 
of the Ecole Militaire. 

Co-existent with " spyophobia " there was 
another craze, that of suspecting any light seen at 
night-time in an attic or fifth-floor window to be a 


signal intended for the enemy. Many ludicrous 
incidents occurred in connexion with this panic. 
One night an elderly bourgeois, who had recently 
married a charming young woman, was suddenly 
dragged from his bed by a party of indignant National 
Guards, and consigned to the watch-house until 
daybreak. This had been brought about by his wife's 
maid placing a couple of lighted candles in her 
window as a signal to the wife's lover that, " master 
being at home," he was not to come up to the flat 
that night. On another occasion a poor old lady, 
who was patriotically depriving herself of sleep in 
order to make lint for the ambulances, was pounced 
upon and nearly strangled for exhibiting green and 
red signals from her window. It turned out, how- 
ever, that the signals in question were merely the 
reflections of a harmless though charmingly varie- 
gated parrot which was the zealous old dame's sole 
and faithful companion. 

No matter what might be the quarter of Paris in 
which a presumed signal was observed, the house 
whence it emanated was at once invaded by National 
Guards, and perfectly innocent people were often 
carried off and subjected to ill-treatment. To such 
proportions did the craze attain that some papers 
even proposed that the Government should forbid 
any kind of light whatever, after dark, in any room 
situated above the second floor, unless the windows 
of that room were " hermetically sealed " ! Most 
victims of the mania submitted to the mob's invasion 
of their homes without raising any particular protest ; 
but a volunteer artilleryman, who wrote to the 
authorities complaining that his rooms had been 
ransacked in his absence and his aged mother 
frightened out of her wits, on the pretext that some 


fusees had been fired from his windows, declared 
that if there should be any repetition of such an 
intrusion whilst he was at home he would receive 
the invaders bayonet and revolver in hand. From 
that moment similar protests poured into the Hotel- 
de-Ville, and Trochu ended by issuing a proclamation 
in which he said : " Under the most frivolous pre- 
texts, numerous houses have been entered, and 
peaceful citizens have been maltreated. The flags 
of friendly nations have been powerless to protect 
the houses where they were displayed. I have 
ordered an inquiry on the subject, and I now com- 
mand that all persons guilty of these abusive practices 
shall be arrested. A special service has been 
organized in order to prevent the enemy from 
keeping up any communication with any of its 
partisans in the city ; and I remind everybody that 
excepting in such instances as are foreseen by the 
law every citizen's residence is inviolable." 

We nowadays hear a great deal about the claims 
of women, but although the followers of Mrs. Pank- 
hurst have carried on " a sort of a war " for a con- 
siderable time past, I have not yet noticed any dis- 
position on their part to " join the colours." Men 
currently assert that women cannot serve as soldiers. 
There are, however, many historical instances of 
women distinguishing themselves in warfare, and 
modern conditions are even more favourable than 
former ones for the employment of women as soldiers. 
There is splendid material to be derived from the 
golf -girl, the hockey -girl, the factory- and the laundry- 
girl all of them active, and in innumerable instances 
far stronger than many of the narrow-chested, 
cigarette-smoking " boys " whom we now see in our 
regiments. Briefly, a day may well come when we 


shall see many of our so-called superfluous women 
taking to the " career of arms." However, the 
attempts made to establish a corps of women- 
soldiers in Paris, during the German siege, were more 
amusing than serious. Early in October some 
hundreds of women demonstrated outside the Hotel- 
de-Ville, demanding that all the male nurses attached 
to the ambulances should be replaced by women. 
The authorities promised to grant that application, 
and the women next claimed the right to share the 
dangers of the field with their husbands and their 
brothers. This question was repeatedly discussed 
at the public clubs, notably at one in the Rue Pierre 
Levee, where Louise Michel, the schoolmistress who 
subsequently participated in the Commune and was 
transported to New Caledonia, officiated as high- 
priestess ; and at another located at the Triat 
Gymnasium in the Avenue Montaigne, where as a 
rule no men were allowed to be present, that is, 
excepting a certain Citizen Jules Allix, an eccentric 
elderly survivor of the Republic of '48, at which 
period he had devised a system of telepathy effected 
by means of " sympathetic snails." 

One Sunday afternoon in October the lady 
members of this club, being in urgent need of funds, 
decided to admit men among their audience at the 
small charge of twopence per head, and on hearing 
this, my father and myself strolled round to witness 
the proceedings. They were remarkably lively. 
Allix, while reading a report respecting the club's 
progress, began to libel some of the Paris convents, 
whereupon a National Guard in the audience flatly 
called him a liar. A terrific hubbub arose, all the 
women gesticulating and protesting, whilst their 
f esidmte energetically rang her bell, and the inter- 


rupter strode towards the platform. He proved to 
be none other than the Due de Fitz-James, a lineal 
descendant of our last Stuart King by Marlborough's 
sister, Arabella Churchill. He tried to speak, but 
the many loud screams prevented him from doing so. 
Some of the women threatened him with violence, 
whilst a few others thanked him for defending the 
Church. At last, however, he leapt on the platform, 
and in doing so overturned both a long table covered 
with green baize, and the members of the committee 
who were seated behind it. Jules Allix thereupon 
sprang at the Duke's throat, they struggled and fell 
together from the platform, and rolled in the dust 
below it. It was long before order was restored, but 
this was finally effected by a good-looking young 
woman who, addressing the male portion of the 
audience, exclaimed : " Citizens ! if you say another 
word we will fling what you have paid for admission 
in your faces, and order you out of doors ! " 

Business then began, the discussion turning 
chiefly upon two points, the first being that all women 
should be armed and do duty on the ramparts, and 
the second that the women should defend their 
honour from the attacks of the Germans by means 
of prussic acid. Allix remarked that it would be 
very appropriate to employ prussic acid in killing 
Prussians, and explained to us that this might be 
effected by means of little indiarubber thimbles 
which the women would place on their fingers, each 
thimble being tipped with a small pointed tube con- 
taining some of the acid in question. If an amorous 
Prussian should venture too close to a fair Parisienne, 
the latter would merely have to hold out her hand and 
prick him. In another instant he would fall dead ! 
" No matter how many of the enemy may assail her," 


added Allix, enthusiastically, " she will simply have 
to prick them one by one, and we shall see her stand- 
ing still pure and holy in the midst of a circle of 
corpses ! " At these words many of the women in 
the audience were moved to tears, but the men 
laughed hilariously. 

Such disorderly scenes occurred at this women's 
club, that the landlord of the Triat Gymnasium at 
last took possession of the premises again, and the 
ejected members vainly endeavoured to find accom- 
modation elsewhere. Nevertheless, another scheme 
for organizing an armed force of women was started, 
and one day, on observing on the walls of Paris a 
green placard which announced the formation of 
a " Legion of Amazons of the Seine," I repaired to 
the Rue Turbigo, where this Legion's enlistment 
office had been opened. After making my way up 
a staircase crowded with recruits, who were mostly 
muscular women from five-and-twenty to forty years 
of age, the older ones sometimes being unduly stout, 
and not one of them, in my youthful opinion, at all 
good-looking, I managed to squeeze my way into the 
private office of the projector of the Legion, or, as he 
called himself, its " Provisional Chef de Bataillon." 
He was a wiry little man, with a grey moustache and 
a military bearing, and answered to the name of 
Felix Belly. A year or two previously he had 
unjustly incurred a great deal of ridicule in Paris, 
owing to his attempts to float a Panama Canal 
scheme. Only five years after the war, however, 
the same idea was taken up by Ferdinand de Lesseps, 
and French folk, who had laughed it to scorn in Belly's 
time, proved only too ready to fling their hard- 
earned savings into the bottomless gulf of Lesseps' 


I remember having a long chat with Belly, who 
was most enthusiastic respecting his proposed 
Amazons. They were to defend the ramparts and 
barricades of Paris, said he, being armed with light 
guns carrying some 200 yards; and their costume, a 
model of which was shown me, was to consist of 
black trousers with orange-coloured stripes down the 
outer seams, black blouses with capes, and black 
kepis, also with orange trimmings. Further, each 
woman was to carry a cartridge-box attached to a 
shoulder-belt. It was hoped that the first battalion 
would muster quite 1200 women, divided into eight 
companies of 150 each. There was to be a special 
medical service, and although the chief doctor would 
be a man, it was hoped to secure several assistant 
doctors of the female sex. Little M. Belly dwelt 
particularly on the fact that only women of un- 
exceptionable moral character would be allowed to 
join the force, all recruits having to supply certificates 
from the Commissaries of Police of their districts, as 
well as the consent of their nearest connexions, such 
as their fathers or their husbands. " Now, listen to 
this," added M. Belly, enthusiastically, as he went 
to a piano which I was surprised to find standing in 
a recruiting office ; and seating himself at the 
instrument, he played for my especial benefit the 
stirring strains of a new, specially-commissioned 
battle-song, which, said he, " we intend to call the 
Marseillaise of the Paris Amazons ! ' : 

Unfortunately for M. Belly, all his fine projects 
and preparations collapsed a few days afterwards, 
owing to the intervention of the police, who raided 
the premises in the Rue Turbigo, and carried off all 
the papers they found there. They justified these 
summary proceedings on the ground that General 


Trochu had forbidden the formation of any more 
free corps, and that M. Belly had unduly taken fees 
from his recruits. I believe, however, that the latter 
statement was incorrect. At all events, no further 
proceedings were instituted. But the raid sufficed 
to kill M. Belly's cherished scheme, which naturally 
supplied the caricaturists of the time with more or 
less brilliant ideas. One cartoon represented the 
German army surrendering en masse, to a mere 
battalion of the Beauties of Paris. 



Reconnaissances and Sorties Casimir-Perier at Bagneux Some of 
the Paris Clubs Demonstrations at the H6tel-de-Ville The Cannon 
Craze The Fall of Metz foreshadowed Le Bourget taken by the 
French The Government's Policy of Concealment The Germans 
recapture Le Bourget Thiers, the Armistice, and Bazaine's Capitula- 
tion The Rising of October 31 The Peril and the Rescue of the 
Government Armistice and Peace Conditions The Great Question 
of Rations Personal Experiences respecting Food My Father, in 
failing Health, decides to leave Paris. 

AFTER the engagement of Chatillon, fought on 
September 19, various reconnaissances were carried 
out by the army of Paris. In the first of these 
General Vinoy secured possession of the plateau of 
Villejuif, east of Chatillon, on the south side of the 
city. Next, the Germans had to retire from Pierre- 
fitte, a village in advance of Saint Denis on the 
northern side. There were subsequent reconnais- 
sances in the direction of Neuilly-sur-Marne and the 
Plateau d'Avron, east of Paris ; and on Michaelmas 
Day an engagement was fought at L'Hay and 
Chevilly, on the south. But the archangel did not 
on this occasion favour the French, who were re- 
pulsed, one of their commanders, the veteran brigadier 
Guilhem, being killed. A fight at Chatillon on 
October 12 was followed on the morrow by a more 
serious action at Bagneux, on the verge of the 
Chatillon plateau. During this engagement the 



Mobiles from the Burgundian Cote d'Or made a 
desperate attack on a German barricade bristling 
with guns, reinforced by infantry, and also protected 
by a number of sharp-shooters installed in the 
adjacent village-houses, whose window-shutters and 
walls had been loop-holed. During the encounter, 
the commander of the Mobiles, the Comte de Dam- 
pierre, a well-known member of the French Jockey 
Club, fell mortally wounded whilst urging on his 
men, but was succoured by a captain of the Mobiles 
of the Aube, who afterwards assumed the chief 
command, and, by a rapid flanking movement, was 
able to carry the barricade. This captain was Jean 
Casimir-Perier, who, in later years, became President 
of the Republic. He was rewarded for his gallantry 
with the Cross of the Legion of Honour. Never- 
theless, the French success was only momentary. 

That same night the sky westward of Paris was 
illumined by a great ruddy glare. The famous 
Chateau of Saint Cloud, associated with many 
memories of the old regime and both the Empires, 
was seen to be on fire. The cause of the conflagra- 
tion has never been precisely ascertained. Present- 
day French reference-books still declare that the 
destruction of the chateau was the wilful act of the 
Germans, who undoubtedly occupied Saint Cloud ; 
but German authorities invariably maintain that 
the fire was caused by a shell from the French 
fortress of Mont Valerien. Many of the sumptuous 
contents of the Chateau of Saint Cloud the fatal 
spot where that same war had been decided on 
were consumed by the flames, while the remainder 
were appropriated by the Germans as plunder. 
Many very valuable paintings of the period of 
Louis XIV were undoubtedly destroyed. 


By this time the word " reconnaissance," as 
applied to the engagements fought in the environs 
of the city, had become odious to the Parisians, who 
began to clamour for a real " sortie." Trochu, it 
may be said, had at this period no idea of being able 
to break out of Paris. In fact, he had no desire to 
do so. His object in all the earlier military opera- 
tions of the siege was simply to enlarge the circle of 
investment, in the hope of thereby placing the 
Germans in a difficulty, of which he might subse- 
quently take advantage. An attack which General 
Ducrot made, with a few thousand men, on the 
German position near La Malmaison, west of Paris, 
was the first action which was officially described as 
a " sortie." It took place on October 21, but the 
success which at first attended Ducrot's efforts was 
turned into a repulse by the arrival of German re- 
inforcements, the affair ending with a loss of some 
four hundred killed and wounded on the French 
side, apart from that of another hundred men who 
were taken prisoners by the enemy. 

This kind of thing did not appeal to the many 
frequenters of the public clubs which were established 
in the different quarters of Paris. All theatrical 
performances had ceased there, and there was no 
more dancing. Even the concerts and readings 
given in aid of the funds for the wounded were few 
and far between. Thus, if a Parisian did not care to 
while away his evening in a cafe, his only resource 
was to betake himself to one of the clubs. Those 
held at the Folies-Bergere music-hall, the Valentino 
dancing-hall, the Porte St. Martin theatre, and the 
hall of the College de France, were mostly frequented 
by moderate Republicans, and attempts were often 
made there to discuss the situation in a sensible 


manner. But folly, even insanity, reigned at many 
of the other clubs, where men like Felix Pyat, 
Auguste Blanqui, Charles Delescluze, Gustave 
Flourens, and the three Ms Megy, Mottu, and 
Milliere : raved and ranted. Go where you would, 
you found a club. There was that of La Heine 
Blanche at Montmartre and that of the Salle Fa vie at 
Belleville ; there was the Club de la Vengeance on the 
Boulevard Rochechouart, the Club des Montagnards 
on the Boulevard de Strasbourg, the Club des Etats- 
Unis d' Europe in the Rue Cadet, the Club du Pre- 
aux-CIercs in the Rue du Bac, the Club de la Cour 
des Miracles on the He Saint Louis, and twenty or 
thirty others of lesser note. At times the demagogues 
who perorated from the tribunes at these gatherings, 
brought forward proposals which seemed to have 
emanated from some madhouse, but which were 
nevertheless hailed with delirious. applause by their 
infatuated audiences. Occasionally new engines of 
destruction were advocated so-called " Satan- 
fusees," or pumps discharging flaming petroleum ! 
Another speaker conceived the brilliant idea of 
keeping all the wild beasts in the Jardin des Plantes 
on short commons for some days, then removing 
them from Paris at the next sortie, and casting them 
adrift among the enemy. Yet another imbecile 
suggested that the water of the Seine and the Marne 
should be poisoned, regardless of the fact that, in 
any such event, the Parisians would suffer quite as 
much as the enemy. 

But the malcontents were not satisfied with rant- 
ing at the clubs. On October 2, Paris became very 
gloomy, for we then received from outside the news 
that both Toul and Strasbourg had surrendered. 
Three days later, Gustave Flourens gathered the 


National Guards of Belleville together and marched 
with them on the H6tel-de-Ville, where he called upon 
the Government to renounce the military tactics of 
the Empire which had set one Frenchman against 
three Germans, to decree a levee en masse, to make 
frequent sorties with the National Guards, to arm 
the latter with chassepots, and to establish at once 
a municipal " Commune of Paris." On the subject 
of sorties the Government promised to conform to 
the general desire, and to allow the National Guards 
to co-operate with the regular army as soon as they 
should know how to fight and escape being simply 
butchered. To other demands made by Flourens, 
evasive replies were returned, whereupon he indig- 
nantly resigned his command of the Belleville men, 
but resumed it at their urgent request. 

The affair somewhat alarmed the Government, 
who issued a proclamation forbidding armed demon- 
strations, and, far from consenting to the establish- 
ment of any Commune, postponed the ordinary 
municipal elections which were soon to have taken 
place. To this the Reds retorted by making yet 
another demonstration, which my father and myself 
witnessed. Thousands of people, many of them 
being armed National Guards, assembled on the 
Place de 1' Hotel de Ville, shouting : "La Commune ! 
La Commune ! Nous voulons la Commune ! 5: But 
the authorities had received warning of their 
opponents' intentions, and the H6tel-de- Ville was 
entirely surrounded by National Guards belonging 
to loyal battalions, behind whom, moreover, was 
stationed a force of trusty Mobile Guards, whose 
bayonets were already fixed. Thus no attempt 
could be made to raid the H6tel-de- Ville with any 
chance of success. Further, several other contingents 


of loyal National Guards arrived on the square, and 
helped to check the demonstrators. 

While gazing on the scene from an upper window 
of the Cafe de la Garde Nationale, at one corner of 
the square, I suddenly saw Trochu ride out of the 
Government building, as it then was, followed by a 
couple of aides-de-camp. His appearance was 
attended by a fresh uproar. The yells of "La 
Commune ! La Commune ! " rose more loudly than 
ever, but were now answered by determined shouts 
of " Vive la Republique ! Vive Trochu ! Vive le 
Gouvernement ! " whilst the drums beat, the trum- 
pets sounded, and all the Government forces pre- 
sented arms. The general rode up and down the 
lines, returning the salute, amidst prolonged acclama- 
tions, and presently his colleagues, Jules Favre and 
the others excepting, of course, Gambetta, who had 
already left Paris also came out of the H6tel-de- 
Ville and received an enthusiastic greeting from their 
supporters. For the time, the Reds were absolutely 
defeated, and in order to prevent similar disturb- 
ances in future, Keratry, the Prefect of Police, wished 
to arrest Flourens, Blanqui, Milliere, and others, 
which suggestion was countenanced by Trochu, but 
opposed by Rochefort and Etienne Arago. A few 
days later, Rochefort patched up a brief outward 
reconciliation between the contending parties. 
Nevertheless, it was evident that Paris was already 
sharply divided, both on the question of its defence 
and on that of its internal government. 

On October 23, some of the National Guards were 
at last allowed to join in a sortie. They were men 
from Montmartre, and the action, or rather skirmish, 
in which they participated took place at Villemomble, 
east of Paris, the guards behaving fairly well under 


fire, and having five of their number wounded. 
Patriotism was now taking another form in the city. 
There was a loud cry for cannons, more and more 
cannons. The Government replied that 227 mitrail- 
leuses with over 300,000 cartridges, 50 mortars, 
400 carriages for siege guns, several of the latter 
ordnance, and 300 seven-centimetre guns carrying 
8600 yards, together with half a million shells of 
different sizes, had already been ordered, and in 
part delivered. Nevertheless, public subscriptions 
were started in order to provide another 1500 cannon, 
large sums being contributed to the fund by public 
bodies and business firms. Not only did the news- 
papers offer to collect small subscriptions, but stalls 
were set up for that purpose in different parts of 
Paris, as in the time of the first Revolution, and 
people there tendered their contributions, the women 
often offering jewelry in lieu of money. Trochu, 
however, deprecated the movement. There were 
already plenty of guns, said he ; what he required 
was gunners to serve them. 

On October 25 we heard of the fall of the little 
town of Chateaudun in Eure-et-Loir, after a gallant 
resistance offered by 1200 National Guards and 
Francs-tireurs against 6000 German infantry, a 
regiment of cavalry, and four field batteries. Von 
Wittich, the German general, punished that resist- 
ance by setting fire to Chateaudun and a couple of 
adjacent villages, and his men, moreover, massacred 
a number of non-combatant civilians. Nevertheless, 
the courage shown by the people of Chateaudun 
revived the hopes of the Parisians and strengthened 
their resolution to brave every hardship rather than 
surrender. Two days later, however, Felix Pyat's 
journal Le Combat published, within a mourning 



border, the following announcement : " It is a sure 
and certain fact that the Government of National 
Defence retains in its possession a State secret, which 
we denounce to an indignant country as high treason. 
Marshal Bazaine has sent a colonel to the camp of the 
King of Prussia to treat for the surrender of Metz and 
for Peace in the name of Napoleon III." 

The news seemed incredible, and, indeed, at the 
first moment, very few people believed it. If it 
were true, however, Prince Frederick Charles's forces, 
released from the siege of Metz, would evidently be 
able to march against D' Aurelle de Paladines' army of 
the Loire just when it was hoped that the latter would 
overthrow the Bavarians under Von der Tann and 
hasten to the relief of Paris. But people argued that 
Bazaine was surely as good a patriot as Bourbaki, 
who, it was already known, had escaped from Metz 
and offered his sword to the National Defence in 
the provinces. A number of indignant citizens 
hastened to the office of Le Combat in order to seize 
Pyat and consign him to durance, but he was an 
adept in the art of escaping arrest, and contrived to 
get away by a back door. At the H6tel-de-Ville 
Rochefort, on being interviewed, described Pyat as 
a cur, and declared that there was no truth whatever 
in his story. Public confidence completely revived 
on the following morning, when the official journal 
formally declared that Metz had not capitulated ; 
and, in the evening, Paris became quite jubilant at 
the news that General Carre de Bellemare, who com- 
manded on the north side of the city, had wrested 
from the Germans the position of Le Bourget, lying 
to the east of Saint Denis. 

Pyat, however, though he remained in hiding, 
clung to his story respecting Metz, stating in Le 


Combat, on October 29, that the news had been com- 
municated to him by Gustave Flourens, who had 
derived it from Rochefort, by whom it was now 
impudently denied. It subsequently became known, 
moreover, that another member of the Government, 
Eugene Pelletan, had confided the same intelligence 
to Commander Longuet, of the National Guard. It 
appears that it had originally been derived from 
certain members of the Red Cross Society, who, 
when it became necessary to bury the dead and tend 
the wounded after an encounter in the environs of 
Paris, often came in contact with the Germans. 
The report was, of course, limited to the statement 
that Bazaine was negotiating a surrender, not that 
he had actually capitulated. The Government's 
denial of it can only be described as a quibble 
of the kind to which at times even British Govern- 
ments stoop when faced by inconvenient questions 
in the House of Commons and, as we shall soon 
see, the gentlemen of the National Defence spent 
a tres mauvais quart d'heure as a result of the sup- 
pressio veri of which they were guilty. Similar 
" bad quarters of an hour " have fallen upon 
politicians in other countries, including our own, 
under somewhat similar circumstances. 

On October 30, Thiers, after travelling all over 
Europe, pleading his country's cause at every great 
Court, arrived in Paris with a safe-conduct from 
Bismarck, in order to lay before the Government 
certain proposals for an armistice, which Russia, 
Great Britain, Austria, and Italy were prepared to 
support. And alas ! he also brought with him the 
news that Metz had actually fallen having capi- 
tulated, indeed, on October 27, the very day on 
which Pyat had issued his announcement. There 


was consternation at the H6tel-de-Ville when this 
became known, and the gentlemen of the Govern- 
ment deeply but vainly regretted the futile tactics 
to which they had so foolishly stooped. To make 
matters worse, we received in the evening intelligence 
that the Germans had driven Carre de Bellemare's 
men out of Le Bourget after some brief but desperate 
righting. Trochu declared that he had no need of 
the Bourget position, that it had never entered 
into his scheme of defence, and that Bellemare had 
been unduly zealous in attacking and taking it from 
the Germans. If that were the case, however, why 
had not the Governor of Paris ordered Le Bourget to 
be evacuated immediately after its capture, without 
waiting for the Germans to re- take it at the bayonet's 
point ? Under the circumstances, the Parisians were 
naturally exasperated. Tumultuous were the scenes 
on the Boulevards that evening, and vehement and 
threatening were the speeches at the clubs. 

When the Parisians quitted their homes on the 
morning of Monday, the 31st, they found the city 
placarded with two official notices, one respect- 
ing the arrival of Thiers and the proposals for an 
armistice, and the second acknowledging the disaster 
of Metz. A hurricane of indignation at once swept 
through the city. Le Bourget lost ! Metz taken ! 
Proposals for an armistice with the detested Prussians 
entertained ! Could Trochu' s plan and Bazaine's 
plan be synonymous, then ? The one word 
" Treachery ! " was on every lip. When noon 
arrived the Place de l'H6tel-de-Ville was crowded 
with indignant people. Deputations, composed 
chiefly of officers of the National Guard, interviewed 
the Government, and were by no means satisfied 
with the replies which they received from Jules 


Ferry and others. Meantime, the crowd on the 
square was increasing in numbers. Several members 
of the Government attempted to prevail on it to 
disperse ; but no heed was paid to them. 

At last a free corps commanded by Tibaldi, an 
Italian conspirator of Imperial days, effected an 
entrance into the H6tel-de-Ville, followed by a 
good many of the mob. In the throne-room they 
were met by Jules Favre, whose attempts to address 
them failed, the shouts of "La Commune ! La 
Commune ! " speedily drowning his voice. Mean- 
time, two shots were fired by somebody on the 
square, a window was broken, and the cry of the 
invaders became " To arms ! to arms ! Our brothers 
are being butchered ! " In vain did Trochu and 
Rochefort endeavour to stem the tide of invasion. 
In vain, also, did the Government, assembled in the 
council-room, offer to submit itself to the suffrages 
of the citizens, to grant the election of municipal 
councillors, and to promise that no armistice should 
be signed without consulting the population. The 
mob pressed on through one room after another, 
smashing tables, desks, and windows on their way, 
and all at once the very apartment where the Govern- 
ment were deliberating was, in its turn, invaded, 
several officers of the National Guard, subsequently 
prominent at the time of the Commune, heading 
the intruders and demanding the election of a Com- 
mune and the appointment of a new administration 
under the presidency of Dorian, the popular Minister 
of Public Works. 

Amidst the ensuing confusion, M. Ernest Picard, 
a very corpulent, jovial-looking advocate, who was 
at the head of the department of Finances, contrived 
to escape; but all his colleagues were surrounded, 


insulted by the invaders, and summoned to resign 
their posts. They refused to do so, and the wrangle 
was still at its height when Gustave Flourens and his 
Belleville sharpshooters reached the Place de FHotel- 
de-Ville. Flourens entered the building, which at 
this moment was occupied by some seven or eight 
thousand men, and proposed that the Commune 
should be elected by acclamation. This was agreed 
upon ; Dorian's name though, by the way, he was 
a wealthy ironmaster, and in no sense a Communard 
being put at the head of the list. This included 
Flourens himself, Victor Hugo, Louis Blanc, Raspail, 
Mottu, Delescluze, Blanqui, Ledru-Rollin, Rochef ort, 
Felix Pyat, Ranvier, and Avrial. Then Flourens, in 
his turn, entered the council-room, climbed on to 
the table, and summoned the captive members of 
the Government to resign. Again they refused to 
do so, and were therefore placed under arrest. 
Jules Ferry and Emmanuel Arago managed to escape, 
however, and some friendly National Guards suc- 
ceeded in entering the building and carrying off 
General Trochu. Ernest Picard, meanwhile, had 
been very active in devising plans for the recapture 
of the H6tel-de-Ville and providing for the safety of 
various Government departments. Thus, when 
Flourens sent a lieutenant to the treasury demanding 
the immediate payment of 600,000 (!) the request 
was refused, and the messenger placed under arrest. 
Nevertheless, the insurgents made themselves masters 
of several district town-halls. 

But Jules Ferry was collecting the loyal National 
Guards together, and at half -past eleven o'clock that 
night they and some Mobiles marched on the Hotel- 
de-Ville. The military force which had been left 
there by the insurgents was not large. A parley 



ensued, and while it was still in progress, an entire 
battalion of Mobiles effected an entry by a sub- 
terranean passage leading from an adjacent barracks. 
Delescluze and Flourens then tried to arrange terms 
with Dorian, but Jules Ferry would accept no con- 
ditions. The imprisoned members of the Govern- 
ment were released, and the insurgent leaders com- 
pelled to retire. About this time Trochu and Ducrot 
arrived on the scene, and between three and four 
o'clock in the morning I saw them pass the Govern- 
ment forces in review on the square. 

On the following day, all the alleged conventions 
between M. Dorian and the Red Republican leaders 
were disavowed. There was, however, a conflict of 
opinion as to whether those leaders should be arrested 
or not, some members of the Government admitting 
that they had promised Delescluze and others that 
they should not be prosecuted. In consequence of 
this dispute, several officials, including Edmond 
Adam, Keratry's successor as Prefect of Police, 
resigned their functions. A few days later, twenty- 
one of the insurgent leaders were arrested, Pyat 
being among them, though nothing was done in 
regard to Flourens and Blanqui, both of whom had 
figured prominently in the affair. 

On November 3 we had a plebiscitum, the 
question put to the Parisians being : " Does the 
population of Paris, yes or no, maintain the powers 
of the Government of National Defence ? " So far 
as the civilian element which included the National 
Guards was concerned, the ballot resulted as 
follows: Voting "Yes," 321,373 citizens; voting 
" No," 53,585 citizens. The vote of the army, 
inclusive of the Mobile Guard, was even more pro- 
nounced : "Yes," 236,623; "No," 9053. Thus 


the general result was 557,996 votes in favour of the 
Government, and 62,638 against it the proportion 
being 9 to 1 for the entire male population of the 
invested circle. This naturally rendered the autho- 
rities jubilant. 

But the affair of October 31 had deplorable 
consequences with regard to the armistice negotia- 
tions. This explosion of sedition alarmed the 
German authorities. They lost confidence in the 
power of the National Defence to carry out such 
terms as might be stipulated, and, finally, Bismarck 
refused to allow Paris to be revictualled during the 
period requisite for the election of a legislative 
assembly which was to have decided the question 
of peace or war unless one fort, and possibly more 
than one, were surrendered to him. Thiers and 
Favre could not accept such a condition, and thus 
the negotiations were broken off. Before Thiers 
quitted Bismarck, however, the latter significantly 
told him that the terms of peace at that juncture 
would be the cession of Alsace to Germany, and the 
payment of three milliards of francs as an indemnity ; 
but that after the fall of Paris the terms would be 
the cession of both Alsace and Lorraine, and a 
payment of five milliards. 

In the earlier days of the siege there was no 
rationing of provisions, though the price of meat 
was fixed by Government decree. At the end of 
September, however, the authorities decided to limit 
the supply to a maximum of 500 oxen and 4000 
sheep per diem. It was decided also that the 
butchers' shops should only open on every fourth 
day, when four days' meat should be distributed at 
the official prices. During the earlier period the 
daily ration ranged from 80 to 100 grammes, that is, 


about 2| oz. to 3^ oz. in weight, one-fifth part of it 
being bone in the case of beef, though, with respect 
to mutton, the butchers were forbidden to make up 
the weight with any bones which did not adhere to 
the meat. At the outset of the siege only twenty 
or thirty horses were slaughtered each day ; but on 
September 30 the number had risen to 275. A 
week later there were nearly thirty shops in Paris 
where horseflesh was exclusively sold, and scarcely 
a day elapsed without an increase in their number. 
Eventually horseflesh became virtually the only meat 
procurable by all classes of the besieged, but in the 
earlier period it was patronized chiefly by the poorer 
folk, the prices fixed for it by authority being naturally 
lower than those edicted for beef and mutton. 

With regard to the arrangements made by my 
father and myself respecting food, they were, in the 
earlier days of the siege, very simple. We were 
keeping no servant at our flat in the Rue de Miro- 
mesnil. The concierge of the house, and his wife, 
did all such work as we required. This concierge, 
whose name was Saby, had been a Zouave, and had 
acted as orderly to his captain in Algeria. He was 
personally expert in the art of preparing " cous- 
coussou" and other Algerian dishes, and his wife 
was a thoroughly good cook a la franpaise. Directly 
meat was rationed, Saby said to me : " The allowance 
is very small ; you and Monsieur votre pere will be 
able to eat a good deal more than that. Now, some 
of the poorer folk cannot afford to pay for butchers' 
meat, they are contented with horseflesh, which is 
not yet rationed, and are willing to sell their ration 
cards. You can well afford to buy one or two of 
them, and in that manner secure extra allowances 
of beef or mutton." 


That plan was adopted, and for a time everything 
went on satisfactorily. On a few occasions I joined 
the queue outside our butcher's in the Rue de 
Penthievre, and waited an hour or two to secure 
our share of meat. We were not over-crowded in 
that part of Paris. A great many members of the 
aristocracy and bourgeoisie, who usually dwelt 
there, had left the city with their families and ser- 
vants prior to the investment ; and thus the queues 
and the waits were not so long as in the poorer and 
more densely populated districts. Saby, however, 
often procured our meat himself or employed some- 
body else to do so, for women were heartily glad of 
the opportunity to earn half a franc or so by acting 
as deputy for other people. 

We had secured a small supply of tinned pro- 
visions, and would have increased it if the prices 
had not gone up by leaps and bounds, in such wise 
that a tin of corned beef or something similar, which 
one saw priced in the morning at about 5 francs, 
was labelled 20 francs a few hours later. Dry beans 
and peas were still easily procurable, but fresh 
vegetables at once became both rare and costly. 
Potatoes failed us at an early date. On the other 
hand, jam and preserved fruit could be readily 
obtained at the grocer's at the corner of our street. 
The bread slowly deteriorated in quality, but was 
still very fair down to the date of my departure from 
Paris (November 8 *). Milk and butter, however, 
became rare the former being reserved for the 
hospitals, the ambulances, the mothers of infants, 
and so forth whilst one sighed in vain for a bit of 
Gruyere, Roquefort, Port-Salut, Brie, or indeed any 
other cheese. 

* See the following chapter. 


Saby, who was a very shrewd fellow, had con- 
ceived a brilliant idea before the siege actually began. 
The Chateaubriands having quitted the house and 
removed their horses from the stables, he took pos- 
session of the latter, purchased some rabbits 
several does and a couple of bucks laid in a supply 
of food for them, and resolved to make his fortune 
by rabbit-breeding. He did not quite effect his 
purpose, but rabbits are so prolific that he was 
repaid many times over for the trouble which he 
took in rearing them. For some time he kept the 
affair quite secret. More than once I saw him 
going in and out of the stables, without guessing the 
reason ; but one morning, having occasion to speak 
to him, I followed him and discovered the truth. He 
certainly bred several scores of rabbits during the 
course of the siege, merely ceasing to do so when he 
found it impossible to continue feeding the animals. 
On two or three occasions we paid him ten francs 
or so for a rabbit, and that was certainly " most- 
favoured-nation treatment ; " for, at the same period, 
he was charging twenty and twenty-five francs to 
other people. Cooks, with whom he communicated, 
came to him from mansions both near and far. He 
sold quite a number of rabbits to Baron Alphonse 
de Rothschild's chef at the rate of 2 apiece, and 
others to Count Fillet- Will at about the same price, 
so that, so far as his pockets were concerned, he in no 
wise suffered by the siege of Paris. 

We were blessed with an abundance of charcoal 
for cooking purposes, and of coals and wood for 
ordinary fires, having at our disposal not only the 
store in our own cellars, but that which the Chateau- 
briand family had left behind. The cold weather 
set in very soon, and firing was speedily in great 



demand. Our artist Jules Pelcoq, who lived in the 
Rue Lepic at Montmartre, found himself reduced to 
great straits in this respect, nothing being procurable 
at the dealers' excepting virtually green wood which 
had been felled a short time previously in the Bois de 
Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. On a couple of 
occasions Pelcoq and I carried some coals in bags to 
his flat, and my father, being anxious for his comfort, 
wished to provide him with a larger supply. Saby 
was therefore requisitioned to procure a man who 
would undertake to convey some coals in a hand- 
cart to Montmartre. The man was found, and paid 
for his services in advance. But alas ! the coals 
never reached poor Pelcoq. When we next saw the 
man who had been engaged, he told us that he had 
been intercepted on his way by some National Guards, 
who had asked him what his load was, and, on 
discovering that it consisted of coals, had promptly 
confiscated them and the barrow also, dragging the 
latter to some bivouac on the ramparts. I have 
always doubted that story, however, and incline to 
the opinion that our improvised porter had simply 
sold the coals and pocketed the proceeds. 

One day, early in November, when our allowance 
of beef or mutton was growing small by degrees and 
beautifully less and infrequent horseflesh becoming 
more and more en evidence at the butchers' shops,* 
I had occasion to call on one of our artists, Blanchard, 
who lived in the Faubourg Saint Germain. When 
we had finished our business he said to me : " Ernest, 
it is my fete day. I am going to have a superb 
dinner. My brother-in-law, who is an official of the 
Eastern Railway Line, is giving it in my honour. 

* Only 1 oz. of beef or mutton was now allowed per diem, but in 
lieu thereof you could obtain i Ib. of horseflesh. 


Come with me ; I invite you." We thereupon went 
to his brother-in-law's flat, where I was most cordially 
received, and before long we sat down at table in a 
warm and well-lighted dining-room, the company 
consisting of two ladies and three men, myself in- 

The soup, I think, had been prepared from horse- 
flesh with the addition of a little Liebig's extract of 
meat ; but it was followed by a beautiful leg of 
mutton, with beans a la Bretonne and potatoes ! 
I had not tasted a potato for weeks past, for in vain 
had the ingenious Saby endeavoured to procure 
some. But the crowning triumph of the evening 
was the appearance of a huge piece of Gruyere cheese, 
which at that time was not to be seen in a single 
shop in Paris. Even Chevet, that renowned purveyor 
of dainties, had declared that he had none. 

My surprise in presence of the cheese and the 
potatoes being evident, Blanchard's brother-in-law 
blandly informed me that he had stolen them. 
" There is no doubt," said he, " that many trades- 
people hold secret stores of one thing and another, 
but wish prices to rise still higher than they are 
before they produce them. I did not, however, take 
those potatoes or that cheese from any shopkeeper's 
cellar. But, in the store-places of the railway 
company to which I belong, there are tons and tons 
of provisions, including both cheese and potatoes, 
for which the consignees never apply, preferring, as 
they do, to leave them there until famine prices are 
reached. Well, I have helped myself to just a few 
things, so as to give Blanchard a good dinner this 
evening. As for the leg of mutton, I bribed the 
butcher not with money, he might have refused 
it but with cheese and potatoes, and it was fair 


exchange." When I returned home that evening 
I carried in my pockets more than half a pound of 
Gruyere and two or three pounds of potatoes, which 
my father heartily welcomed. The truth about the 
provisions which were still stored at some of the 
railway depots was soon afterwards revealed to the 

Although my father was then only fifty years of 
age and had plenty of nervous energy, his health was 
at least momentarily failing him. He had led an 
extremely strenuous life ever since his twentieth 
year, when my grandfather's death had cast great 
responsibilities on him. He had also suffered from 
illnesses which required that he should have an 
ample supply of nourishing food. So long as a fair 
amount of ordinary butcher's meat could be pro- 
cured, he did not complain ; but when it came to 
eating horseflesh two or three times a week he could 
not undertake it, although, only a year or two 
previously, he had attended a great banquet Tiippo- 
phagique given in Paris, and had then even written 
favourably of viande de cheval in an article he pre- 
pared on the subject. For my own part, being a 
mere lad, I had a lad's appetite and stomach, and I 
did not find horseflesh so much amiss, particularly 
as prepared with garlic and other savouries by 
Mme. Saby's expert hands. But, after a day or 
two, my father refused to touch it. For three days, I 
remember, he tried to live on bread, jam, and pre- 
served fruit ; but the sweetness of such a diet became 
nauseous to him even as it became nauseous to 
our soldiers when the authorities bombarded them 
with jam in South Africa. It was very difficult to 
provide something to my father's taste ; there was no 
poultry and there were no eggs. It was at this time 


that Saby sold us a few rabbits, but, again, toujours 
lapin was not satisfactory. 

People were now beginning to partake of sundry 
strange things. Rats were certainly eaten before 
the siege ended, though by no means in such 
quantities as some have asserted. However, there 
were already places where dogs and cats, skinned 
and prepared for cooking, were openly displayed for 
sale. Labouchere related, also, that on going one 
day into a restaurant and seeing cochon de lait, 
otherwise sucking-pig, mentioned in the menu, he 
summoned the waiter and cross- questioned him on the 
subject, as he greatly doubted whether there were any 
sucking-pigs in all Paris. "Is it sucking-pig ? " he 
asked the waiter. " Yes, monsieur," the man replied. 
But Labby was not convinced. " Is it a little pig ? " 
he inquired. " Yes, monsieur, quite a little one." 
" Is it a young pig ? " pursued Labby, who was still 
dubious. The waiter hesitated, and at last replied, 
" Well, I cannot be sure, monsieur, if it is quite 
young." " But it must be young if it is little, as 
you say. Come, what is it, tell me ? ' : " Monsieur, 
it is a guinea-pig ! ' : Labby bounded from his chair, 
took his hat, and fled. He did not feel equal to 
guinea-pig, although he was very hungry. 

Perhaps, however, Labouchere's best story of 
those days was that of the old couple who, all other 
resources failing them, were at last compelled to 
sacrifice their little pet dog. It came up to table 
nicely roasted, and they both looked at it for a 
moment with a sigh. Then Monsieur summoned up 
his courage and helped Madame to the tender viand. 
She heaved another sigh, but, making a virtue of 
necessity, began to eat, and whilst she was doing so 
she every now and then deposited a little bone on the 


edge of her plate. There was quite a collection of 
little bones there by the time she had finished, and 
as she leant back in her chair and contemplated 
them she suddenly exclaimed : " Poor little Toto ! 
If he had only been alive what a fine treat he would 
have had ! " 

To return, however, to my father and myself, 
I must mention that there was a little English 
tavern and eating-house in the Rue de Miromesnil, 
kept by a man named Lark, with whom I had some 
acquaintance. We occasionally procured English 
ale from him, and one day, late in October, when I 
was passing his establishment, he said to me : " How 
is your father ? He seems to be looking poorly. 
Aren't you going to leave with the others ? " I 
inquired of Lark what he meant by his last question ; 
whereupon he told me that if I went to the Embassy 
I should see a notice in the consular office respecting 
the departure of British subjects, arrangements 
having been made to enable all who desired to quit 
Paris to do so. I took the hint and read the notice, 
which ran as Lark had stated, with this addendum : 
'' The Embassy cannot, however, charge itself with 
the expense of assisting British subjects to leave 
Paris." Forthwith I returned home and imparted 
the information I had obtained to my father. 

Beyond setting up that notice in the Consul's 
office, the Embassy took no steps to acquaint British 
subjects generally with the opportunity which was 
offered them to escape bombardment and famine. 
It is true that it was in touch with the British 
Charitable Fund and that the latter made the 
matter known to sundry applicants for assistance. 
But the British colony still numbered 1000 people, 
hundreds of whom would have availed themselves 


of this opportunity had it only come to their know- 
ledge. My father speedily made up his mind to quit 
the city, and during the next few days arrangements 
were made with our artists and others so that the 
interests of the Illustrated London News might in no 
degree suffer by his absence. Our system had long 
been perfected, and everything worked well after 
our departure. I may add here, because it will 
explain something which follows, that my father 
distributed all the money he could possibly spare 
among those whom he left behind, in such wise that 
on quitting Paris we had comparatively little, and 
as the sequel showed insufficient money with us. 
But it was thought that we should be able to secure 
whatever we might require on arriving at Versailles. 



I leave Paris with my Father Jules Favre, Wodehouse, and Washburne 
Through Charenton to Creteil At the Outposts First Glimpses of 
the Germans A Subscription to shoot the King of Prussia The 
Road to Brie-Comte-Robert Billets for the Night Chats with 
German Soldiers The Difficulty with the Poorer Refugees Mr. 
Wodehouse and my Father On the Way to Corbeil A Franco- 
German Flirtation Affairs at Corbeil On the Road in the Rain 
Longjumeau A Snow-storm The Peasant of Champlan Arrival at 

SINCE Lord Lyons's departure from Paris, the 
Embassy had remained in the charge of the second 
Secretary, Mr. Wodehouse, and the Vice-Consul. 
In response to the notice set up in the latter's office, 
and circulated also among a tithe of the community 
by the British Charitable Fund, it was arranged 
that sixty or seventy persons should accompany 
the Secretary and Vice-Consul out of the city, the 
military attache, Colonel Claremont, alone remaining 
there. The provision which the Charitable Fund 
made for the poorer folk consisted of a donation of 
4 to each person, together with some three pounds 
of biscuits and a few ounces of chocolate to munch 
on the way. No means of transport, however, were 
provided for these people, though it was known that 
we should have to proceed to Versailles where the 
German headquarters were installed by a very 
circuitous route, and that the railway lines were cut. 



We were to have left on November 2, at the 
same time as a number of Americans, Russians, and 
others, and it had been arranged that everybody 
should meet at an early hour that morning at the 
Charenton gate on the south-east side of Paris. On 
arriving there, however, all the English who joined 
the gathering were ordered to turn back, as informa- 
tion had been received that permission to leave the 
city was refused them. This caused no little conster- 
nation among the party, but the order naturally had 
to be obeyed, and half angrily and half disconsolately 
many a disappointed Briton returned to his recent 
quarters. We afterwards learnt that Jules Favre, 
the Foreign Minister, had in the first instance abso- 
lutely refused to listen to the applications of Mr. 
Wodehouse, possibly because Great Britain had not 
recognized the French Republic ; though if such were 
indeed the reason, it was difficult to understand why 
the Russians received very different treatment, as 
the Czar, like the Queen, had so far abstained from 
any official recognition of the National Defence. 
On the other hand, Favre may, perhaps, have shared 
the opinion of Bismarck, who about this time tersely 
expressed his opinion of ourselves in the words : 
" England no longer counts " so low, to his think- 
ing, had we fallen in the comity of nations under our 
Gladstone cum Granville administration. 

Mr. Wodehouse, however, in his unpleasant 
predicament, sought the assistance of his colleague, 
Mr. Washburne, the United States Minister, and 
the latter, who possessed more influence in Paris 
than any other foreign representative, promptly 
put his foot down, declaring that he himself would 
leave the city if the British subjects were still refused 
permission to depart, Favre then ungraciously 


gave way ; but no sooner had his assent been obtained 
than it was discovered that the British Foreign 
Office had neglected to apply to Bismarck for per- 
mission for the English leaving Paris to pass through 
the German lines. Thus delay ensued, and it was 
only on the morning of November 8 that the English 
departed at the same time as a number of Swiss 
citizens and Austrian subjects. 

The Charenton gate was again the appointed 
meeting-place. On our way thither, between six 
and seven o'clock in the morning, we passed many 
a long queue waiting outside butchers' shops for 
pittances of meat, and outside certain municipal 
depots where after prolonged waiting a few thimbles- 
ful of milk were doled out to those who could prove 
that they had young children. Near the Porte de 
Charenton a considerable detachment of the National 
Guard was drawn up as if to impart a kind of 
solemnity to the approaching exodus of foreigners. 
A couple of young staff-officers were also in attend- 
ance, with a mounted trumpeter and another trooper 
carrying the usual white flag on a lance. 

The better-circumstanced of our party were in 
vehicles purchased for the occasion, a few also being 
mounted on valuable horses, which it was desired to 
save from the fate which eventually overtook most 
of the animals that remained in Paris. Others were 
in hired cabs, which were not allowed, however, to 
proceed farther than the outposts ; while a good 
many of the poorer members of the party were in 
specially engaged omnibuses, which also had to turn 
back before we were handed over to a German escort ; 
the result being that their occupants were left to 
trudge a good many miles on foot before other means 
of transport were procured. In that respect the 


Swiss and the Austrians were far better cared-for 
than the English. Although the weather was 
bitterly cold, Mr. Wodehouse, my father, myself, a 
couple of Mr. Wodehouse's servants, and a young 
fellow who had been connected, I think, with a 
Paris banking-house, travelled in an open pair- 
horse break. The Vice-Consul and his wife, who were 
also accompanying us, occupied a small private 

Before passing out of Paris we were all mustered 
and our laisser-passers were examined. Those held 
by British subjects emanated invariably from the 
United States Embassy, being duly signed by Mr. 
Washburne, so that we quitted the city virtually 
as American citizens. At last the procession was 
formed, the English preceding the Swiss and the 
Austrians, whilst in the rear, strangely enough, came 
several ambulance vans flaunting the red cross of 
Geneva. Nobody could account for their presence 
with us, but as the Germans were accused of occasion- 
ally firing on flags of truce, they were sent, perhaps, 
so as to be of service in the event of any mishap 
occurring. All being ready, we crossed the massive 
drawbridge of the Porte de Charenton, and wound 
in and out of the covered way which an advanced 
redoubt protected. A small detachment of light 
cavalry then joined us, and we speedily crossed the 
devastated track known as the " military zone," 
where every tree had been felled at the moment of 
the investment. Immediately afterwards we found 
ourselves in the narrow winding streets of Charenton, 
which had been almost entirely deserted by their 
inhabitants, but were crowded with soldiers who 
stood at doors and windows, watching our curious 
caravan. The bridge across the Marne was mined, 


but still intact, and defended at the farther end by 
an entrenched and loopholed redoubt, faced by 
some very intricate and artistic chevaux-de-frise. 
Once across the river, we wound round to the left, 
through the village of Alf ort, where all the villas and 
river-side restaurants had been turned into military 
posts ; and on looking back we saw the huge 
Charenton madhouse surmounting a wooded height 
and flying a large black flag. At the outset of the 
siege it had been suggested that the more harmless 
inmates should be released rather than remain 
exposed to harm from chance German shells ; but 
the director of the establishment declared that in 
many instances insanity intensified patriotic feeling, 
and that if his patients were set at liberty they would 
at least desire to become members of the Govern- 
ment. So they were suffered to remain in their 
exposed position. 

We went on, skirting the estate of Charentonneau, 
where the park wall had been blown down and many 
of the trees felled. On our right was the fort of 
Charenton, armed with big black naval guns. All 
the garden walls on our line of route had been razed 
or loopholed. The road was at times barricaded 
with trees, or intersected by trenches, and it was not 
without difficulty that we surmounted those im- 
pediments. At Petit Creteil we were astonished to 
see a number of market-gardeners working as un- 
concernedly as in times of peace. It is true that 
the village was covered by the fire of the Charenton 
fort, and that the Germans would have incurred 
great risk in making a serious attack on it. Never- 
theless, small parties of them occasionally crept 
down and exchanged shots with the Mobiles who 
were stationed there, having their headquarters at 


a deserted inn, on reaching which we made our first 

The hired vehicles were now sent back to Paris, 
and after a brief interval we went on again, passing 
through an aperture in a formidable-looking barricade. 
We then reached Creteil proper, and there the first 
serious traces of the havoc of war were offered to our 
view. The once pleasant village was lifeless. Every 
house had been broken into and plundered, every 
door and every window smashed. Smaller articles 
of furniture, and so forth, had been removed, larger 
ones reduced to fragments. An infernal spirit of 
destruction had swept through the place ; and yet, 
mark this, we were still within the French lines. 

Our progress along the main street being suddenly 
checked by another huge barricade, we wound round 
to the right, and at last reached a house where less 
than a score of Mobiles were . gathered, protected 
from sudden assault by a flimsy barrier of planks, 
casks, stools, and broken chairs. This was the most 
advanced French outpost in the direction we were 
following. We passed it, crossing some open fields 
where a solitary man was calmly digging potatoes, 
risking his life at every turn of his spade, but knowing 
that every pound of the precious tuber that he might 
succeed in taking into Paris would there fetch 
perhaps as much as ten francs. 

Again we halted, and the trumpeter and the 
trooper with the white flag rode on to the farther 
part of the somewhat scattered village. Suddenly 
the trumpet's call rang out through the sharp, frosty 
air, and then we again moved on, passing down 
another village street where several gaunt starving 
cats attempted to follow us, with desperate strides 
and piteous mews. Before long, we perceived, 


standing in the middle of the road before us, a 
couple of German soldiers in long great-coats and 
boots reaching to the shins. One of them was carry- 
ing a white flag. A brief conversation ensued with 
them, for they both spoke French, and one of them 
knew English also. Soon afterwards, from behind 
a stout barricade which we saw ahead, three or four 
of their officers arrived, and somewhat stiff and 
ceremonious salutes were exchanged between them 
and the French officers in charge of our party. 

Our arrival had probably been anticipated. At 
all events, a big and very welcome fire of logs and 
branches was blazing near by, and whilst one or two 
officers on either side, together with Colonel Clare- 
mont and some officials of the British Charitable 
Fund, were attending to the safe-conducts of her 
then Majesty's subjects, the other French and 
German officers engaged in conversation round the 
fire I have mentioned. The latter were probably 
Saxons ; at all events, they belonged to the forces of 
the Crown Prince, afterwards King, of Saxony, who 
commanded this part of the investing lines, and with 
whom the principal English war-correspondent was 
Archibald Forbes, freshly arrived from the siege of 
Metz. The recent fall of that stronghold and the 
conduct of Marshal Bazaine supplied the chief 
subject of the conversation carried on at the Creteil 
outposts between the officers of the contending 
nations. Now and then, too, came a reference to 
Sedan and the overthrow of the Bonapartist Empire. 
The entire conversation was in French I doubt, 
indeed, if our French custodians could speak German 
and the greatest courtesy prevailed ; though the 
French steadily declined the Hamburg cigars which 
their adversaries offered them. 


I listened awhile to the conversation, but when 
the safe-conduct for my father and myself had been 
examined, I crossed to the other side of the road 
in order to scan the expanse of fields lying in that 
direction. All at once I saw a German officer, 
mounted on a powerful-looking horse, galloping over 
the rough ground in our direction. He came straight 
towards me. He was a well-built, middle-aged man 
of some rank possibly a colonel. Reining in his 
mount, he addressed me in French, asking several 
questions. When, however, I had told him who we 
were, he continued the conversation in English and 
inquired if I had brought any newspapers out of 
Paris. Now, we were all pledged not to give any 
information of value to the enemy, but I had in my 
pockets copies of two of the most violent prints then 
appearing in the city that is to say, La Patrie en 
Danger, inspired by Blanqui, and Le Combat) edited 
by Felix Pyat. The first-named was all sound and 
fury, and the second contained a subscription list for 
a pecuniary reward and rifle of honour to be pre- 
sented to the Frenchman who might fortunately 
succeed in killing the King of Prussia. As the 
German officer was so anxious to ascertain what the 
popular feeling in Paris might be, and whether it 
favoured further resistance, it occurred to me, in a 
spirit of devilment as it were, to present him with 
the aforesaid journals, for which he expressed his 
heartfelt thanks, and then galloped away. 

As I never met him again, I cannot say how he 
took the invectives and the " murder-subscription." 
Perhaps it was not quite right of me to foist on him, 
as examples of genuine Parisian opinion, two such 
papers as those I gave him ; but, then, all is fair not 
merely in love but in war also, and in regard to the 


contentions of France and Germany, my sympathies 
were entirely on the side of France. 

We had not yet been transferred to the German 
escort which was waiting for us, when all at once we 
heard several shots fired from the bank of the Marne, 
whereupon a couple of German dragoons galloped 
off in that direction. The firing ceased as abruptly 
as it had begun, and then, everything being in 
readiness so far as we were concerned, Colonel 
Claremont, the Charitable Fund people, the French 
officers and cavalry, and the ambulance waggons 
retraced their way to Paris, whilst our caravan went 
on in the charge of a detachment of German dragoons. 
Not for long, however, for the instructions received 
respecting us were evidently imperfect. The reader 
will have noticed that we left Paris on its south- 
eastern side, although our destination was Versailles, 
which lies south-west of the capital, being in that 
direction only some eleven miles distant. Further, 
on quitting Creteil, instead of taking a direct route 
to the city of Louis Quatorze, we made, as the reader 
will presently see, an immense detour, so that our 
journey to Versailles lasted three full days. This 
occurred because the Germans wished to prevent 
us from seeing anything of the nearer lines of invest- 
ment and the preparations which had already begun 
for the bombardment of Paris. 

On our departure from Creteil, however, our route 
was not yet positively fixed, so we presently halted, 
and an officer of our escort rode off to take further 
instructions, whilst we remained near a German 
outpost, where we could not help noticing how healthy- 
looking, stalwart, and well-clad the men were. Orders 
respecting our movements having arrived, we set 
out again at a walking pace, perhaps because so 


many of our party were on foot. Troops were posted 
near every side-road that we passed. Officers con- 
stantly cantered up, inquiring for news respecting the 
position of affairs in Paris, wishing to know, in 
particular, if the National Defence ministers were 
still prisoners of the populace, and whether there 
was now a Red Republic with Blanqui at its head. 
What astounded them most was to hear that, although 
Paris was taking more and more to horseflesh, it was, 
as yet, by no means starving, and that, so far as 
famine might be concerned, it would be able to 
continue resisting for some months longer. In point 
of fact, this was on November 8, and the city did 
not surrender until January 28. But the German 
officers would not believe what we said respecting 
the resources of the besieged; they repeated the 
same questions again and again, and still looked 
incredulous, as if, indeed, they thought that we 
were fooling them. 

At Boissy-Saint Leger we halted whilst the 
British, Austrian, and Swiss representatives inter- 
viewed the general in command there. He was 
installed in a trim little chateau, in front of which 
was the quaintest sentry-box I have ever seen, for 
it was fashioned of planks, logs, and all sorts of scraps 
of furniture, whilst beside it lay a doll's perambulator 
and a little boy's toy-cart. But we again set out, 
encountering near Gros-Bois a long line of heavily- 
laden German provision-wagons; and presently, 
without addressing a word to any of us, the officer 
of our escort gave a command, his troopers wheeled 
round and galloped away, leaving us to ourselves. 

By this time evening was approaching, and the 
vehicles of our party drove on at a smart trot, leaving 
the unfortunate pedestrians a long way in the rear. 


Nobody seemed to know exactly where we were, 
but some passing peasants informed us that we 
were on the road to Basle, and that the nearest 
locality was Brie-Comte-Robert. The horses draw- 
ing the conveyances of the Swiss and Austrian 
representatives were superior to those harnessed to 
Mr. Wodehouse's break, so we were distanced on 
the road, and on reaching Brie found that all the 
accommodation of the tw r o inns I can scarcety 
call them hotels had been allotted to the first 
arrivals. Mr. Wodehouse's party secured a lodging 
in a superior-looking private house, whilst my father, 
myself, and about thirty others repaired to the 
mairie for billets. 

A striking scene met my eyes there. By this 
time night had fallen. In a room which was almost 
bare of furniture, the mayor was seated at a little 
table on which two candles were burning. On 
either side of him stood a German infantryman with 
rifle and fixed bayonet. Here and there, too, were 
several German hussars, together with ten or a dozen 
peasants of the locality. And the unfortunate 
mayor, in a state of semi-arrest, was striving to 
comply with the enemy's requisitions of food, forage, 
wine, horses, and vehicles, the peasants meanwhile 
protesting that they had already been despoiled of 
everything, and had nothing whatever left. " So 
you want me to be shot ? " said the mayor to them, 
at last. " You know very well that the things must 
be found. Go and get them together. Do the best 
you can. We will see afterwards." 

When acting as usual as my father's interpreter 
I asked the mayor for billets, he raised his arms 
to the ceiling. " I have no beds," said he. " Every 
bit of available bedding, excepting at the inns, has 


been requisitioned for the Prussian ambulances. 
I might find some straw, and there are outhouses and 
empty rooms. But there are so many of you, and I 
do not know how I can accommodate you all." 

It was not, however, the duty of my father or 
myself to attend to the requirements of the whole 
party. That was the duty rather of the Embassy 
officials, so I again pressed the mayor to give me at 
least a couple of decent billets. He thought for a 
moment, then handed me a paper bearing a name 
and address, whereupon we, my father and myself, 
went off. But it was pitch-dark, and as we could 
not find the place indicated, we returned to the 
mairie, where^ after no little trouble, a second paper 
was given me. By this time the poorer members of 
the party had been sent to sheds and so forth, where 
they found some straw to lie upon. The address on 
my second paper was that of a basket-maker, whose 
house was pointed out to us. We were very cordially 
received th^re, and taken to a room containing a 
bed provided with a sommier elastique. But there 
was no mattress, no sheet, no blanket, no bolster, no 
pillow everything of that kind having been requisi- 
tioned for the German ambulances ; and I recollect 
that two or three hours later, when my father and 
myself retired to rest in that icy chamber, the window 
of which was badly broken, we were glad to lay our 
heads on a couple of hard baskets, having left our 
bags in Mr. Wodehouse's charge. 

Before trying to sleep, however, we required 
food ; for during the day we had consumed every 
particle of a cold rabbit and some siege-bread which 
we had brought out of Paris. The innkeepers proved 
to be extremely independent and irritable, and we 
could obtain very little from, them, Fortunately, 


we discovered a butcher's, secured some meat from 
him, and prevailed on the wife of our host, the basket- 
maker, to cook it for us. We then went out again, 
and found some cafes and wine-shops which were 
crowded with German soldiery. Wine and black 
coffee were obtainable there, and whilst we refreshed 
ourselves, more than one German soldier, knowing 
either French or English, engaged us in conversation. 
My own German was at that time very limited, for 
I had not taken kindly to the study of the language, 
and had secured, moreover, but few opportunities to 
attempt to converse in it. However, I well remember 
some of the German soldiers declaring that they were 
heartily sick of the siege, and expressing a hope that 
the Parisians would speedily surrender, so that they, 
the Germans, might return to the Fatherland in 
ample time to get their Christmas trees ready. A 
good-looking and apparently very genial Uhlan also 
talked to me about the Parisian balloons, relating 
that, directly any ascent was observed, news of it was 
telegraphed along all the investing lines, that every 
man had orders to fire if the aerial craft came approxi- 
mately within range, and that he and his comrades 
often tried to ride a balloon down. 

After a wretched night, we washed at the pump 
in the basket-maker's yard, and breakfasted off 
bread and cafe, noir. Milk, by the way, was as 
scarce at Brie as in Paris itself, the Germans, it was 
said, having carried off all the cows that had pre- 
viously supplied France with the far-famed Brie 
cheese. We now discovered that, in order to reach 
Versailles, we should have to proceed in the first 
instance to Corbeil, some fifteen miles distant, when 
we should be within thirty miles of the German 
headquarters. That was pleasant news, indeed ! 


We had already made a journey of over twenty 
miles, and now another of some five-and-forty miles 
lay before us. And yet, had we only been allowed 
to take the proper route, we should have reached 
Versailles after travelling merely eleven miles beyond 
Paris ! 

Under the circumstances, the position of the 
unfortunate pedestrians was a very unpleasant one, 
and my father undertook to speak on their behalf 
to Mr. Wodehouse, pointing out to him that it was 
unfair to let these unfortunate people trudge all the 
way to Versailles. 

" But what am I to do ? " Mr. Wodehouse replied. 
" I am afraid that no vehicles can be obtained here." 

" The German authorities will perhaps help you 
in the matter," urged my father. 

" I doubt it. But please remember that every- 
body was warned before leaving Paris that he would 
do so at his own risk and peril, and that the Embassy 
could not charge itself with the expense." 

" That is exactly what surprised me," said my 
father. " I know that the Charitable Fund has done 
something, but I thought that the Embassy would 
have done more." 

" I had no instructions," replied Mr. Wodehouse. 

" But, surely, at such a time as this, a man 
initiates his own instructions." 

" Perhaps so ; but I had no money." 

On hearing this, my father, for a moment, almost 
lost his temper. " Surely, Mr. Wodehouse," said he, 
" you need only have gone to Baron de Rothschild 
he would have let you have whatever money you 
required." * 

* I have reconstructed the above dialogue from my diary, which I 
posted up on reaching Versailles. 


Mr. Wodehouse looked worried. He was cer- 
tainly a most amiable man, but he was not, I think, 
quite the man for the situation. Moreover, like my 
father, he was in very poor health at this time. 
Still, he realized that he must try to effect something, 
and eventually, with the assistance of the mayor and 
the German authorities, a few farm-carts were pro- 
cured for the accommodation of the poorer British 
subjects. During the long interval which had 
elapsed, however, a good many men had gone off 
of their own accord, tired of waiting, and resolving 
to try their luck in one and another direction. 
Thus our procession was a somewhat smaller one 
when we at last quitted Brie-Comte-Robert for 

We met many German soldiers on our way at 
times large detachments of them and we scarcely 
ever covered a mile of ground without being ques- 
tioned respecting the state of affairs in Paris and the 
probable duration of its resistance, our replies in- 
variably disappointing the questioners, so anxious 
were they to see the war come to an end. This was 
particularly the case with a young non-commissioned 
officer who jumped on the step of Mr. Wodehouse's 
break, and engaged us in conversation whilst we 
continued on our way. Before leaving us he re- 
marked, I remember, that he would very much like 
to pay a visit to England ; whereupon my father 
answered that he would be very much pleased to see 
him there, provided, however, that he would come 
by himself and not with half a million of armed 

While the German soldiers were numerous, the 
peasants whom we met on the road were few and 
far between. On reaching the little village of 


Lieusaint, however, a number of people rushed to 
the doors of their houses and gazed at us in bewilder- 
ment, for during the past two months the only 
strangers they had seen had been German soldiers, 
and they could not understand the meaning of our 
civilian caravan of carriages and carts. At last 
we entered Corbeil, and followed the main street 
towards the old stone bridge by which we hoped to 
cross the Seine, but we speedily discovered that it 
had been blown up, and that we could only get to 
the other side of the river by a pontoon-bridge lower 
down. This having been effected, we drove to the 
principal hotel, intending to put up there for the 
night, as it had become evident that we should be 
unable to reach Versailles at a reasonable hour. 

However, the entire hotel was in the possession 
of German officers, several of whom we found flirting 
with the landlady's good-looking daughter who, as 
she wore a wedding ring, was, I presume, married. 
I well recollect that she made some reference to the 
ladies of Berlin, whereupon one of the lieutenants 
who were ogling her, gallantly replied that they were 
not half so charming as the ladies of Corbeil. The 
young woman appeared to appreciate the compliment, 
for, on the lieutenant rising to take leave of her, she 
graciously gave him her hand, and said to him with a 
smile : " Au plaisir de vous revoir, monsieur." 

But matters were very different with the old 
lady, her mother, who, directly the coast was clear, 
began to inveigh against the Germans in good set 
terms, describing them, I remember, as semi-savages 
who destroyed whatever they did not steal. She 
was particularly irate with them for not allowing 
M. Darblay, the wealthy magnate of the grain and 
flour trade, and at the same time mayor of Corbeil, 


to retain a single carriage or a single horse for his 
own use. Yet he had already surrendered four 
carriages and eight horses to them, and only wished 
to keep a little gig and a cob. 

We obtained a meal at the hotel, but found it 
impossible to secure a bed there, so we sallied forth 
into the town on an exploring expedition. On all 
sides we observed notices indicating the rate of 
exchange of French and German money, and the 
place seemed to be full of tobacconists' shops, which 
were invariably occupied by German Jews trading 
in Hamburg cigars. On inquiring at a cafe respecting 
accommodation, we were told that we should only 
obtain it with difficulty, as the town was full of 
troops, including more than a thousand sick and 
wounded, fifteen or twenty of whom died every day. 
At last we crossed the river again, and found quarters 
at an inferior hotel, the top-floor of which had been 
badly damaged by some f ailing blocks of stone at the 
time when the French blew up the town bridge. 
However, our beds were fairly comfortable, and we 
had a good night's rest. 

Black coffee was again the only available beverage 
in the morning. No milk was to be had, nor was 
there even a scrap of sugar. In these respects 
Corbeil was even worse off than Paris. The weather 
had now changed, and rain was falling steadily. 
We plainly had a nasty day before us. Nevertheless, 
another set of carts was obtained for the poorer 
folk of our party, on mustering which one man was 
found to be missing. He had fallen ill, we were 
told, and could not continue the journey. Presently, 
moreover, the case was discovered to be one of small- 
pox, which disease had lately broken out in Paris. 
Leaving the sufferer to be treated at the already 


crowded local hospital, we set out, and, on emerging 
from the town, passed a drove of a couple of hundred 
oxen, and some three hundred sheep, in the charge of 
German soldiers. We had scarcely j ourneyed another 
mile when, near Essonnes, noted for its paper-mills, 
one of our carts broke down, which was scarcely sur- 
prising, the country being hilly, the roads heavy, 
and the horses spavined. Again, the rain was now 
pouring in torrents, to the very great discomfort of 
the occupants of the carts, as well as that of Mr. 
Wodehouse's party in the break. But there was no 
help for it, and so on we drove mile after mile, until 
we were at last absolutely soaked. 

The rain had turned to sleet by the time we 
reached Longjumeau, famous for its handsome and 
amorous postilion. Two-thirds of the shops there 
were closed, and the inns were crowded with German 
soldiers, so we drove on in the direction of Palaiseau. 
But we had covered only about half the distance 
when a snow-storm overtook us, and we had to seek 
shelter at Champlan. A German officer there 
assisted in placing our vehicles under cover, but the 
few peasants whom we saw eyeing us inquisitively 
from the doors of their houses declared that the only 
thing they could let us have to eat was dry bread, 
there being no meat, no eggs, no butter, no cheese, 
in the whole village. Further, they averred that 
they had not even a pint of wine to place at our 
disposal. " The Germans have taken everything," 
they said ; "we have 800 of them in and around 
the village, and there are not more than a dozen of 
us left here, all the rest having fled to Paris when 
the siege began." 

The outlook seemed bad, but Mr. Wodehouse's 
valet, a shrewd and energetic man of thirty or 


thereabouts, named Frost, said to me, " I don't believe 
all this. I dare say that if some money is produced 
we shall be able to get something." Accordingly 
we jointly tackled a disconsolate-looking fellow, 
who, if I remember rightly, was either the village 
wheelwright or blacksmith ; and, momentarily leav- 
ing the question of food on one side, we asked him 
if he had not at least a fire in his house at which 
we might warm ourselves. Our party included a 
lady, the Vice-Consul's wife, and although she was 
making the journey in a closed private omnibus, 
she was suffering from the cold. This was explained 
to the man whom we addressed, and when he had 
satisfied himself that we were not Germans in dis- 
guise, he told us that we might come into his house 
and warm ourselves until the storm abated. Some 
nine or ten of us, including the lady I have mentioned, 
availed ourselves of this permission, and the man 
led us upstairs to a first-floor room, where a big 
wood-fire was blazing. Before it sat his wife and 
his daughter, both of them good specimens of French 
rustic beauty. With great good-nature, they at 
once made room for us, and added more fuel to 
the fire. 

Half the battle was won, and presently we were 
regaled with all that they could offer us in the way 
of food that is, bread and baked pears, which 
proved very acceptable. Eventually, after looking 
out of the window in order to make quite sure that 
no Germans were loitering near the house, our host 
locked the door of the room, and turning towards 
a big pile of straw, fire-wood, and household utensils, 
proceeded to demolish it, until he disclosed to view 
a small cask a half hogshead, I think which, said 
he, in a whisper, contained wine. It was all that he 


had been able to secrete. On the arrival of the 
enemy in the district a party of officers had come to 
his house and ordered their men to remove the rest 
of his wine, together with nearly all his bedding, 
and every fowl and every pig that he possessed. 
" They have done the same all over the district," 
the man added, " and you should see some of the 
chateaux they have been absolutely stripped of 
their contents." 

His face brightened when we told him that Paris 
seemed resolved on no surrender, and that, according 
to official reports, she would have a sufficiency of 
bread to continue resisting until the ensuing month 
of February. In common with most of his country- 
men, our host of Champlan held that, whatever else 
might happen, the honour of the nation would at 
least be saved if the Germans could only be kept out 
of Paris ; and thus he was right glad to hear that the 
city's defence would be prolonged. 

He was well remunerated for his hospitality, and 
on the weather slightly improving we resumed our 
journey to Versailles, following the main road by 
way of Palaiseau and Jouy-en-Josas, and urging the 
horses to their quickest pace whilst the light declined 
and the evening shadows gathered around us. 



War-correspondents at Versailles Dr. Russell Lord Adare David 
Dunglas Home and his Extraordinary Career His Seances at Ver- 
sailles An Amusing Interview with Colonel Beauchamp Walker 
Parliament's Grant for British Refugees Generals Duff and Hazen, 
U.S.A. American Help Glimpses of King William and Bismarck 
Our Safe-Conducts From Versailles to Saint Germain-en-Laye 
Trouble at Mantes The German Devil of Destructiveness From 
the German to the French Lines A Train at Last Through Nor- 
mandy and Maine Saint Servan and its English Colony I resolve to 
go to the Front. 

IT was dark when we at last entered Versailles by 
the Avenue de Choisy. We saw some sentries, but 
they did not challenge us, and we went on until we 
struck the Avenue de Paris, where we passed the 
Prefecture, every one of whose windows was a blaze 
of light. King, later Emperor, William had his 
quarters there ; Bismarck, however, residing at a 
house in the Rue de Provence belonging to the 
French General de Jesse. Winding round the Place 
d'Armes, we noticed that one wing of Louis XIV's 
famous palace had its windows lighted, being appro- 
priated to hospital purposes, and that four batteries 
of artillery were drawn up on the square, perhaps 
as a hint to the Versaillese to be on their best 
behaviour. However, we drove on, and a few 
moments later we pulled up outside the famous 
Hotel des Reservoirs. 



There was no possibility of obtaining accommo- 
dation there. From its ground-floor to its garrets 
the hotel was packed with German princes, dukes, 
dukelets, and their suites, together with a certain 
number of English, American, and other war- 
correspondents. Close by, however indeed, if I 
remember rightly, on the other side of the way 
there was a cafe, whither my father and myself 
directed our steps. We found it crowded with 
officers and newspaper men, and through one or 
other of the latter we succeeded in obtaining com- 
fortable lodgings in a private house. The Illus- 
trated London News artist with the German staff 
was Landells, son of the engraver of that name, and 
we speedily discovered his whereabouts. He was 
sharing rooms with Hilary Skinner, the Daily News 
representative at Versailles ; and they both gave us 
a cordial greeting. 

The chief correspondent at the German head- 
quarters was William Howard Russell of the Times, 
respecting whom perhaps because he kept himself 
somewhat aloof from his colleagues a variety of 
scarcely good-natured stories were related, mostly 
designed to show that he somewhat over-estimated 
his own importance. One yarn was to the effect 
that whenever the Doctor mounted his horse, it was 
customary for the Crown Prince of Prussia after- 
wards the Emperor Frederick to hold his stirrup 
leather for him. Personally, I can only say that, 
on my father calling with me on Russell, he received 
us very cordially indeed (he had previously met my 
father, and had well known my uncle Frank), and 
that when we quitted Versailles, as I shall presently 
relate, he placed his courier and his private omnibus 
at our disposal. In after years one of my cousins, 


the late Montague Vizetelly, accompanied Russell 
to South America. I still have some letters which 
the latter wrote me respecting Zola's novel " La 
Debacle," in which he took a great interest. 

Another war-correspondent at Versailles was the 
present Earl of Dunraven, then not quite thirty 
years of age, and known by the courtesy title of 
Lord Adare. He had previously acted as the Daily 
Telegraph's representative with Napier's expedition 
against Theodore of Abyssinia, and was now staying 
at Versailles, on behalf, I think, of the same journal. 
His rooms at the Hotel des Reservoirs were shared 
by Daniel Dunglas Home, the medium, with whom 
my father and myself speedily became acquainted. 
Very tall and slim, with blue eyes and an abundance 
of yellowish hair, Home, at this time about thirty- 
seven years of age, came of the old stock of the Earls 
of Home, whose name figures so often in Scottish 
history. His father was an illegitimate son of the 
tenth earl, and his mother belonged to a family which 
claimed to possess the gift of " second sight." Home 
himself according to his own account began to 
see visions and receive mysterious warnings at the 
period of his mother's death, and as time elapsed 
his many visitations from the other world so greatly 
upset the aunt with whom he was living a Mrs. 
McNeill Cook of Greeneville, Connecticut* that 
she ended by turning him out-of-doors. Other 
people, however, took an unhealthy delight in seeing 
their furniture move about without human agency, 
and in receiving more or less ridiculous messages 
from spirit-land ; and in folk of this description 
Home found some useful friends. 

* He had been taken from Scotland to America when he was about 
nine years old. 


He came to London in the spring of 1855, and 
on giving a seance at Cox's Hotel, in Jermyn Street, 
he contrived to deceive Sir David Brewster (then 
seventy-four years old), but was less successful with 
another septuagenarian, Lord Brougham. Later, 
he captured the imaginative Sir Edward Bulwer 
(subsequently Lord Lytton), who as author of 
" Zanoni " was perhaps fated to believe in him, and 
he also impressed Mrs. Browning, but not Browning 
himself. The latter, indeed, depicted Home as 
" Sludge, the Medium." Going to Italy for a time, 
the already notorious adventurer gave seances in 
a haunted villa near Florence, but on becoming 
converted to the Catholic faith in 1856 he was 
received in private audience by that handsome, 
urbane, but by no means satisfactory pontiff, Pio 
Nono, who, however, eight years later caused him 
to be summarily expelled from Rome as a sorcerer 
in league with the Devil. 

Meantime, Home had ingratiated himself with 
a number of crowned heads Napoleon III and the 
Empress Eugenie, in whose presence he gave seances 
at the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, and Biarritz ; the 
King of Prussia, by whom he was received at Baden- 
Baden ; and Queen Sophia of Holland, who gave him 
hospitality at the Hague. On marrying a Russian 
lady, the daughter of General Count de Kroll, he 
was favoured with presents by the Czar Alexander II, 
and after returning to England became one of the 
" attractions " of Milner-Gibson's drawing-room > 
Mrs. Gibson, a daughter of the Rev. Sir Thomas 
Gery Cullum, being one of the early English 
patronesses of so-called spiritualism, to a faith in 
which she was " converted " by Home, whom she 
first met whilst travelling on the Continent. I 


remember hearing no little talk about him in my 
younger days. Thackeray's friend, Robert Bell, 
wrote an article about him in The Cornhill, which 
was the subject of considerable discussion. Bell, 
I think, was also mixed up in the affair of the 
" Davenport Brothers," one of whose performances 
I remember witnessing. They were afterwards 
effectively shown up in Paris by Vicomte Alfred de 
Caston. Home, for his part, was scarcely taken 
seriously by the Parisians, and when, at a seance 
given in presence of the Empress Eugenie, he 
blundered grossly and repeatedly about her father, 
the Count of Montijo, he received an intimation that 
his presence at Court could be dispensed with. He 
then consoled himself by going to Peterhof and 
exhibiting his powers to the Czar. 

Certain Scotch and English scientists, such as 
Dr. Lockhart Robertson, Dr. Robert Chambers, 
and Dr. James Manby Gully the apostle of hydro- 
pathy, who came to grief in the notorious Bravo 
case warmly supported Home. So did Samuel 
Carter Hall and his wife, William Howitt, and 
Gerald Massey ; and he ended by establishing a 
so-called " Spiritual Athenaeum " in Sloane Street. 
A wealthy widow of advanced years, a Mrs. Jane 
Lyon, became a subscriber to that institution, and, 
growing infatuated with Home, made him a present 
of some 30,000, and settled on him a similar amount 
to be paid at her death. But after a year or two 
she repented of her infatuation, and took legal pro- 
ceedings to recover her money. She failed to sub- 
stantiate some of her charges, but Vice-Chancellor 
Giffard, who heard the case, decided it in her 
favour, in his judgment describing Home as a needy 
and designing man. Home, I should add, was at 


this time a widower and at loggerheads with his 
late wife's relations in Russia, in respect to her 

Among the arts ascribed to Home was that called 
levitation, in practising which he was raised in the 
air by an unseen and unknown force, and remained 
suspended there ; this being, so to say, the first step 
towards human flying without the assistance of any 
biplane, monoplane, or other mechanical contrivance. 
The first occasion on which Home is said to have 
displayed this power was in the late fifties, when he 
was at a chateau near Bordeaux as the guest of the 
widow of Theodore Ducos, the nephew of Bonaparte's 
colleague in the Consulate. In the works put forward 
on Home's behalf one of them, called " Incidents 
in my Life," was chiefly written, it appears, by his 
friend and solicitor, a Mr. W. M. Wilkinson it is 
also asserted that his power of levitation was attested 
in later years by Lord Lindsay, subsequently Earl 
of Crawford and Balcarres, and by the present Earl 
of Dunraven. We are told, indeed, that on one 
occasion the last-named actually saw Home float 
out of a room by one window, and into it again by 
another one. I do not know whether Home also 
favoured Professor Crookes with any exhibition of 
this kind, but the latter certainly expressed an 
opinion that some of Home's feats were genuine. 

When my father and I first met him at Versailles 
he was constantly in the company of Lord Adare. 
He claimed to be acting as the correspondent of a 
Calif ornian journal, but his chief occupation appeared 
to be the giving of seances for the entertainment of 
all the German princes and princelets staying at the 
Hotel des Reservoirs. Most of these highnesses and 
mightinesses formed part of what the Germans 


themselves sarcastically called their " Ornamental 
Staff," and as Moltke seldom allowed them any real 
share in the military operations, they doubtless 
found in Home's performances some relief from the 
tcedium vitce which overtook them during their long 
wait 'for the capitulation of Paris. Now that Metz 
had fallen, that was the chief question which occupied 
the minds of all the Germans assembled at Versailles,* 
and Home was called upon to foretell when it would 
take place. On certain occasions, I believe, he 
evoked the spirits of Frederick the Great, Napoleon, 
Bliicher, and others, in order to obtain from them 
an accurate forecast. At another time he endea- 
voured to peer into the future by means of crystal- 
gazing, in which he required the help of a little child. 
" My experiments have not succeeded," he said one 
day, while we were sitting with him at the cafe near 
the Hotel des Reservoirs ; " but that is not my 
fault. I need an absolutely pure-minded child, and 
can find none here, for this French race is corrupt 
from its very infancy." He was fasting at this time, 
taking apparently nothing but a little eau sucree for 
several days at a stretch. " The spirits will not 
move me unless I do this," he said. " To bring them 
to me, I have to contend against the material part 
of my nature." 

A couple of years later, after another visit to 
St. Petersburg, where, it seems, he was again well 
received by the Czar and again married a lady of the 
Russian nobility, Home's health began to fail him, 
perhaps on account of the semi-starvation to which 

* The Germans regarded it as the more urgent at the time of my 
arrival at Versailles, as only a few days previously (November 9), the new 
French Army of the Loire under D'Aurelle de Paladines had defeated 
the Bavarians at Coulmiers, and thereby again secured possession of 


at intervals he subjected himself. I saw him 
occasionally during his last years, when, living at 
Auteuil, he was almost a neighbour of mine. He died 
there in 1886, being then about fifty-three years old. 
Personally, I never placed faith in him. I regarded 
him at the outset with great curiosity, but some time 
before the war I had read a good deal about Cagliostro, 
Saint Germain, Mesmer, and other charlatans, also 
attending a lecture about them at the Salle des Con- 
ferences; and all that, combined with the exposure 
of the Davenport Brothers and other spiritualists 
and illusionists, helped to prejudice me against such 
a man as Home. At the same time, this so-called 
" wizard of the nineteenth century " was certainly 
a curious personality, possessed, I presume, of con- 
siderable suggestive powers, which at times enabled 
him to make others believe as he desired. We ought 
to have had Charcot's opinion of his case. 

As it had taken my father and myself three days 
to reach Versailles from Paris, and we could not tell 
what other unpleasant experiences the future might 
hold in store for us, our pecuniary position gave rise 
to some concern. I mentioned previously that we 
quitted the capital with comparatively little money,* 
and it now seemed as if our journey might become a 
long and somewhat costly affair, particularly as the 
German staff wished to send us off through Northern 
France and thence by way of Belgium. On con- 
sulting Landells, Skinner, and some other corre- 
spondents, it appeared that several days might 
elapse before we could obtain remittances from 
England. On the other hand, every correspondent 
clung to such money as he had in his possession, for 
living was very expensive at Versailles, and at any 

* See p. 161, mite. 


moment some emergency might arise necessitating 
an unexpected outlay. It was suggested, however, 
that we should apply to Colonel Beauchamp Walker, 
who was the official British representative with the 
German headquarters' staff, for, we were told, 
Parliament, in its generosity, had voted a sum of 
4000 to assist any needy British subjects who might 
come out of Paris, and Colonel Walker had the 
handling of the money in question. 

Naturally enough, my father began by demurring 
to this suggestion, saying that he could not apply 
in forma pauperis for charity. But it was pointed 
out that he need do no such thing. " Go to Walker," 
it was said, " explain your difficulty, and offer him 
a note of hand or a draft on the Illustrated, and if 
desired half a dozen of us will back it." Some such 
plan having been decided on, we called upon Colonel 
Walker on the second or third day of our stay at 

His full name was Charles Pyndar Beauchamp 
Walker. Born in 1817, he had seen no little service. 
He had acted as an aide-de-camp to Lord Lucan in 
the Crimea, afterwards becoming Lieutenant-Colonel 
of the 2nd Dragoon Guards. He was in India during 
the final operations for the suppression of the Mutiny, 
and subsequently in China during the Franco- 
British expedition to that country. During the 
Austro-Prussian war of 1866 he was attached as 
British Commissioner to the forces of the Crown 
Prince of Prussia, and witnessed the battle of 
Koniggratz. He served in the same capacity during 
the Franco-German War, when he was at Weissen- 
burg, Worth, and Sedan. In later years he became 
a major-general, a lieutenant-general, a K.C.B., and 
Colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards ; and from 1878 


until his retirement in 1884 he acted as Inspector- 
General of military education. I have set out those 
facts because I have no desire to minimise Walker's 
services and abilities. But I cannot help smiling 
at a sentence which I found in the account of him 
given in the " Dictionary of National Biography." 
It refers to his duties during the Franco-German 
War, and runs as follows : " The irritation of the 
Germans against England, and the number of roving 
Englishmen, made his duty not an easy one, but he 
was well qualified for it by his tact and geniality, 
and his action met with the full approval of the 

The Government hi question would have approved 
anything. But let that pass. We called on the 
colonel at about half-past eleven in the morning, 
and were shown into a large and comfortably fur- 
nished room, where decanters and cigars were 
prominently displayed on a central table. In ten 
minutes' time the colonel appeared, arrayed in a 
beautiful figured dressing-gown with a tasselled 
girdle. I knew that the British officer was fond of 
discarding his uniform, and I was well aware that 
French officers also did so when on furlough in Paris, 
but it gave my young mind quite a shock to see her 
Majesty's military representative with King William 
arrayed in a gaudy dressing-gown in the middle of 
the day. He seated himself, and querulously 
inquired of my father what his business was. It 
was told him very briefly. He frowned, hummed, 
hawed, threw himself back in his armchair, and curtly 
exclaimed, " I am not a money-lender ! " 

The fact that the Illustrated London News was 
the world's premier journal of its class went for 
nothing. The offers of the other correspondents of 


the English Press to back my father's signature were 
dismissed with disdain. When the colonel was 
reminded that he held a considerable amount of 
money voted by Parliament, he retorted : " That is 
for necessitous persons ! But you ask me to lend 
you money ! " " Quite so," my father replied ; 
" I do not wish to be a charge on the Treasury. 
I simply want a loan, as I have a difficult and perhaps 
an expensive journey before me." " How much do 
you want ? " snapped the colonel. " Well," said 
my father, " I should feel more comfortable if I had 
a thousand francs (40) in my pocket." " Forty 
pounds ! " cried Colonel Walker, as if lost in amaze- 
ment. And getting up from his chair he went on, in 
the most theatrical manner possible : " Why, do 
you know, sir, that if I were to let you have forty 
pounds, I might find myself in the greatest possible 
difficulty. To-morrow perhaps, even to-night 
there might be hundreds of our suffering fellow- 
countrymen outside the gates of Versailles, and I 
unable to relieve them ! " " But," said my father 
quietly, " you would still be holding 3960, Colonel 
Walker." The colonel glared, and my father, not 
caring to prolong such an interview, walked out of 
the room, followed by myself. 

A good many of the poorer people who quitted 
Paris with us never repaired to Versailles at all, but 
left us at Corbeil or elsewhere to make their way 
across France as best they could. Another party, 
about one hundred strong, was, however, subse- 
quently sent out of the capital with the assistance 
of Mr. Washburne, and in their case Colonel Walker 
had to expend some money. But every grant was 
a very niggardly one, and it would not surprise me 
to learn that the bulk of the money voted by 


Parliament was ultimately returned to the Treasury 
which circumstance would probably account for the 
" full approval " which the Government bestowed 
on the colonel's conduct at this period. He died 
early in 1894, and soon afterwards some of his corre- 
spondence was published in a volume entitled " Days 
of a Soldier's Life." On reading a review of that work 
in one of the leading literary journals, I was struck 
by a passage in which Walker was described as a 
disappointed and embittered man, who always felt 
that his merits were not sufficiently recognized, 
although he was given a knighthood and retired 
with the honorary rank of general. I presume that 
his ambition was at least a viscounty, if not an 
earldom, and a field-marshal's baton. 

On leaving the gentleman whose " tact and 
geniality " are commemorated in the " Dictionary 
of National Biography," we repaired my father and 
I to the cafe where most of the English newspaper 
men met. Several were there, and my father was 
at once assailed with inquiries respecting his inter- 
view with Colonel Walker. His account of it led 
to some laughter and a variety of comments, which 
would scarcely have improved the colonel's temper. 
I remember, however, that Captain, afterwards 
Colonel Sir, Henry Hozier, the author of " The Seven 
Weeks' War," smiled quietly, but otherwise kept 
his own counsel. At last my father was asked what 
he intended to do under the circumstances, and he 
replied that he meant to communicate with England 
as speedily as possible, and remain in the interval 
at Versailles, although he particularly wished to get 

Now, it happened that among the customers at 
the cafe there were two American officers, one being 



Brigadier-General Duff, a brother of Andrew Halli- 
day, the dramatic author and essayist, whose real 
patronymic was also Duff. My father knew Halliday 
through their mutual friends Henry Mayhew and the 
Broughs. The other American officer was Major- 
General William Babcock Hazen, whose name will 
be found occasionally mentioned in that popular 
record of President Garfield's career, " From Log 
Cabin to White House." During the Civil War in 
the United States he had commanded a division 
in Sherman's march to the sea. He also introduced 
the cold- wave signal system into the American army, 
and in 1870-71 he was following the operations of 
the Germans on behalf of his Government. 

I do not remember whether General Duff (who, I 
have been told, is still alive) was also at Versailles 
in an official capacity, but in the course of conver- 
sation he heard of my father's interview with Colonel 
Walker, and spoke to General Hazen on the subject. 
Hazen did not hesitate, but came to my father, had 
a brief chat with him, unbuttoned his uniform, 
produced a case containing bank-notes, and asked 
my father how much he wanted, telling him not to 
pinch himself. The whole transaction was com- 
pleted in a few minutes. My father was unwilling 
to take quite as much as he had asked of Colonel 
Walker, but General Hazen handed him some 20 
or 30 in notes, one or two of which were afterwards 
changed, for a handsome consideration, by one of 
the German Jews who then infested Versailles and 
profited by the scarcity of gold. We were indebted, 
then, on two occasions to the representatives of the 
United States. The laisser-passer enabling us to 
leave Paris had been supplied by Mr. Washburne, 
and the means of continuing our journey in comfort 


were furnished by General Hazen. I raise my hat 
to the memory of both those gentlemen. 

During the few days that we remained at Ver- 
sailles, we caught glimpses of King William and 
Bismarck, both of whom we had previously seen in 
Paris in 1867, when they were the guests of Napoleon 
III. I find in my diary a memorandum, dictated 
perhaps by my father : " Bismarck much fatter and 
bloated." We saw him one day leaving the Pre- 
fecture, where the King had his quarters. He stood 
for a moment outside, chatting and laughing noisily 
with some other German personages, then strode 
away with a companion. He was only fifty-five 
years old, and was full of vigour at that time, even 
though he might have put on flesh during recent 
years, and therefore have renounced dancing his 
last partner in the waltz having been Mme. Carette, 
the Empress Eugenie's reader, whom he led out at 
one of the '67 balls at the Tuileries. Very hale and 
hearty, too, looked the King whom Bismarck was 
about to turn into an Emperor. Yet the victor of 
Sedan was already seventy-three years old. I only 
saw him on horseback during my stay at Versailles. 
My recollections of him, Bismarck, and Moltke, 
belong more particularly to the year 1872, when I 
was in Berlin in connexion with the famous meeting 
of the three Emperors. 

My father and myself had kept in touch with 
Mr. Wodehouse, from whom we learnt that we 
should have to apply to the German General com- 
manding at Versailles with respect to any further 
safe-conducts. At first we were informed that there 
could be no departure from the plan of sending us 
out of France by way of Epernay, Reims, and Sedan, 
and this by no means coincided with the desires of 


most of the Englishmen who had come out of Paris, 
they wishing to proceed westward, and secure a 
passage across the Channel from Le Havre or Dieppe. 
My father and myself also wanted to go westward, 
but in order to make our way into Brittany, my 
stepmother and her children being at Saint Servan, 
near Saint Malo. At last the German authorities 
decided to give us the alternative routes of Mantes 
and Dreux, the first-named being the preferable one 
for those people who were bound for England. It 
was chosen also by my father, as the Dreux route 
would have led us into a region where hostilities 
were in progress, and where we might suddenly have 
found ourselves " held up." 

The entire party of British refugees was now 
limited to fifteen or sixteen persons, some, tired of 
waiting, having taken themselves off by the Sedan 
route, whilst a few others such as coachmen and 
grooms on securing employment from German 
princes and generals, resolved to stay at Versailles. 
Mr. Wodehouse also remained there for a short 
time. Previously in poor health, he had further 
contracted a chill during our three days' drive in 
an open vehicle. As most of those who were going 
on to England at once now found themselves almost 
insolvent, it was arranged to pay their expenses 
through the German lines, and to give each of them 
a sum of fifty shillings, so that they might make 
their way Channelwards when they had reached an 
uninvaded part of France. Colonel Walker, of 
course, parted with as little money as possible. 

At Versailles it was absolutely impossible to hire 
vehicles to take us as far as Mantes, but we were 
assured that conveyances might be procured at 
Saint Germain-en-Laye ; and it was thus that 


Dr. Russell lent my father his little omnibus for the 
journey to the last-named town, at the same 
time sending his courier to assist in making further 
arrangements. I do not recollect that courier's 
nationality, but he spoke English, French, and 
German, and his services were extremely useful. 
We drove to Saint Germain by way of Rocquencourt, 
where we found a number of country-folk gathered 
by the roadside with little stalls, at which they sold 
wine and fruit to the German soldiers. This part 
of the environs of Paris seemed to have suffered 
less than the eastern and southern districts. So far, 
there had been only one sortie on this side that 
made by Ducrot in the direction of La Malmaison.* 
It had, however, momentarily alarmed the investing 
forces, and whilst we were at Versailles I learnt 
that, on the day in question, everything had been 
got ready for King William's removal to Saint 
Germain in the event of the French achieving a real 
success. But it proved to be a small affair, Ducrot's 
force being altogether incommensurate with the 
effort required of it. 

At Saint Germain, Dr. Russell's courier assisted 
in obtaining conveyances for the whole of our party, 
and we were soon rolling away in the direction of 
Mantes-la-Jolie, famous as the town where William 
the Conqueror, whilst bent on pillage and destruction, 
received the injuries which caused his death. Here 
we had to report ourselves to the German Com- 
mander, who, to the general consternation, began 
by refusing us permission to proceed. He did so 
because most of the safe-conducts delivered to us 
at Versailles, had, in the first instance, only stated 
that we were to travel by way of Sedan ; the words 

* See p. 141, ante. 


" or Mantes or Dreux " being afterwards added 
between the lines. That interlineation was irregular, 
said the General at Mantes ; it might even be a 
forgery ; at all events, he could not recognize it, so 
we must go back whence we had come, and quickly, 
too indeed, he gave us just half an hour to quit 
the town ! But it fortunately happened that in a 
few of the safe-conducts there was no interlineation 
whatever, the words " Sedan or Mantes or Dreux " 
being duly set down in the body of the document, and 
on this being pointed out, the General came to the 
conclusion that we were not trying to impose on 
him. He thereupon cancelled his previous order, 
and decided that, as dusk was already falling, we 
might remain at Mantes that night, and resume our 
journey on the morrow at 5.45 a.m., in the charge 
of a cavalry escort. 

Having secured a couple of beds, and ordered 
some dinner at one of the inns, my father and I 
strolled about the town, which was full of Uhlans 
and Hussars. The old stone bridge across the Seine 
had been blown up by the French before their 
evacuation of the town, and a part of the railway 
line had also been destroyed by them. But the 
Germans were responsible for the awful appearance 
of the railway-station. Never since have I seen 
anything resembling it. A thousand panes of glass 
belonging to windows or roofing had been shivered 
to atoms. Every mirror in either waiting- or refresh- 
ment-rooms had been pounded to pieces ; every 
gilt frame broken into little bits. The clocks lay 
about in small fragments ; account-books and 
printed forms had been torn to scraps; partitions, 
chairs, tables, benches, boxes, nests of drawers, 
had been hacked, split, broken, reduced to mere 


strips of wood. The large stoves were overturned 
and broken, and the marble refreshment counter 
some thirty feet long, and previously one of the 
features of the station now strewed the floor in 
particles, suggesting gravel. It was, indeed, an 
amazing sight, the more amazing as no such work 
of destruction could have been accomplished without 
extreme labour. When we returned to the inn for 
dinner, I asked some questions. " Who did it ? " 
' The first German troops that came here," was the 
answer. " Why did they do it ? was it because 
your men had cut the telegraph wires and destroyed 
some of the permanent way ? " " Oh no ! They 
expected to find something to drink in the refresh- 
ment-room, and when they discovered that everything 
had been taken away, they set about breaking the 
fixtures ! " Dear, nice, placid German soldiers, 
baulked, for a few minutes, of some of the wine of 
France ! 

In the morning we left Mantes by moonlight at 
the appointed hour, unaccompanied, however, by 
any escort. Either the Commandant had forgotten 
the matter, or his men had overslept themselves. 
In the outskirts, we were stopped by a sentry, who 
carried our pass to a guard-house, where a non- 
commissioned officer inspected it by the light of a 
lantern. Then on we went again for another 
furlong or so, when we were once more challenged, 
this time by the German advanced-post. As we 
resumed our journey, we perceived, in the rear, a 
small party of Hussars, who did not follow us, but 
wheeled suddenly to the left, bent, no doubt, on 
some reconnoitring expedition. We were now 
beyond the German lines, and the dawn was breaking. 
Yonder was the Seine, with several islands lying on 


its bosom, and some wooded heights rising beyond 
it. Drawing nearer to the river, we passed through 
the village of Rolleboise, which gives its name to 
the chief tunnel on the Western Line, and drove 
across the debatable ground where French Francs- 
tireurs were constantly on the prowl for venture- 
some Uhlans. At last we got to Bonnieres, a little 
place of some seven or eight hundred inhabitants, 
on the limits of Seine-et-Oise ; and there we had to 
alight, for the vehicles, which had brought us from 
Saint Germain, could proceed no further. 

Fortunately, we secured others, and went on 
towards the village of Jeufosse, where the nearest 
French outposts were established. We were dis- 
playing the white flag, but the first French sentries 
we met, young fellows of the Mobile Guard, refused 
for a little while to let us pass. Eventually they 
referred the matter to an officer, who, on discovering 
that we were English and had come from Paris, 
began to chat with us in a very friendly manner, 
asking all the usual questions about the state of 
affairs in the capital, and expressing the usual satis- 
faction that the city could still hold out. When we 
took leave, he cordially wished us bon voyage, and 
on we hastened, still following the course of the 
Seine, to the little town of Vernon. Its inquisitive 
inhabitants at once surrounded us, eager to know 
who we were, whence we had come, and whither we 
were going. But we did not tarry many minutes, 
for we suddenly learnt that the railway communi- 
cation with Rouen only began at Gaillon, several 
leagues further on, and that there was only one train 
a day. The question which immediately arose was 
could we catch it ? 

On we went, then, once more, this time up, over, 


and down a succession of steep hills, until at last 
we reached Gaillon station, and found to our delight 
that the train would not start for another twenty 
minutes. All our companions took tickets for 
Rouen, whence they intended to proceed to Dieppe 
or Le Havre. But my father and I branched off 
before reaching the Norman capital, and, after 
arriving at Elbeuf, travelled through the depart- 
ments of the Eure and the Orne, passing Alencon 
on our way to Le Mans. On two or three occasions 
we had to change from one train to another. The 
travelling was extremely slow, and there were 
innumerable stoppages. The lines were constantly 
encumbered with vans laden with military supplies, 
and the stations were full of troops going in one 
and another direction. In the waiting-rooms one 
found crowds of officers lying on the couches, the 
chairs, and the tables, and striving to snatch a few 
hours' sleep ; whilst all over the floors and the plat- 
forms soldiers had stretched themselves for the same 
purpose. Very seldom could any food be obtained, 
but I luckily secured a loaf, some cheese, and a bottle 
of wine at Alen9on. It must have been about one 
o'clock in the morning when we at last reached 
Le Mans, and found that there would be no train 
going to Rennes for another four or five hours. 

The big railway-station of Le Mans was full of 
reinforcements for the Army of the Loire. After 
strolling about for a few minutes, my father and I 
sat down on the platform with our backs against a 
wall, for not a bench or a stool was available. Every 
now and again some train prepared to start, men 
were hastily mustered, and then climbed into all 
sorts of carriages and vans. A belated general 
rushed along, accompanied by eager aides-de-camp. 


Now and again a rifle slipped from the hand of some 
Mobile Guard who had been imbibing too freely, 
and fell with a clatter on the platform. Then stores 
were bundled into trucks, whistles sounded, engines 
puffed, and meanwhile, although men were con- 
stantly departing, the station seemed to be as crowded 
as ever. When at last I got up to stretch myself, 
I noticed, affixed to the wall against which I had 
been leaning, a proclamation of Gambetta's respecting 
D'Aurelle de Paladines' victory over Von der Tann 
at Orleans. In another part of the station were 
lithographed notices emanating from the Prefect of 
the department, and reciting a variety of recent 
Government decrees and items of war news, 
skirmishes, reconnaissances, and so forth. At last, 
however, our train came in. It was composed almost 
entirely of third-class carriages with wooden seats, 
and we had to be content with that accom- 

Another long and wearisome journey then began. 
Again we travelled slowly, again there were innumer- 
able stoppages, again we passed trams crowded with 
soldiers, or crammed full of military stores. At some 
place where we stopped there was a train conveying 
some scores of horses, mostly poor, miserable old 
creatures. I looked and wondered at the sight of 
them. " They have come from England," said a 
fellow-passenger ; " every boat from Southampton 
to Saint Malo brings over quite a number." It was 
unpleasant to think that such sorry-looking beasts 
had been shipped by one's own countrymen. How- 
ever, we reached Rennes at last, and were there able 
to get a good square meal, and also to send a telegram 
to my stepmother, notifying her of our early arrival. 
It was, however, at a late hour that we arrived at 


Saint Malo, whence we drove to La Petite Amelia 
at Saint Servaii. 

The latter town then contained a considerable 
colony of English people, among whom the military 
element predominated. Quite a number of half -pay 
or retired officers had come to live there with their 
families, finding Jersey overcrowded and desiring 
to practise economy. The colony also included 
several Irish landlords in reduced circumstances, 
who had quitted the restless isle to escape assassi- 
nation at the hands of " Rory of the Hills " and folk 
of his stamp. In addition, there were several maiden 
ladies of divers ages, but all of slender means ; one 
or two courtesy lords of high descent, but burdened 
with numerous offspring; together with a riding- 
master who wrote novels, and an elderly clergyman 
appointed by the Bishop of Gibraltar. I dare say 
there may have been a few black sheep in the colony ; 
but the picture which Mrs. Annie Edwardes gave of 
it in her novel, " Susan Fielding," was exaggerated, 
though there was truth in the incidents which she 
introduced into another of her works, " Ought We 
to Visit Her ? " On the whole, the Saint Servan 
colony was a very respectable one, even if it was 
not possessed of any great means. Going there 
during my holidays, I met many young fellows of 
my own age or thereabouts, and mostly belonging 
to military families. There were also several charm- 
ing girls, both English and Irish. With the young 
fellows I boated, with the young ladies I played 

Now, whilst my father and I had been shut up in 
Paris, we had frequently written to my stepmother 
by balloon-post, and on some of our letters being 
shown to the clergyman of the colony, he requested 


permission to read them to his congregation which 
he frequently did, omitting, of course, the more 
private passages, but giving all the items of news 
and comments on the situation which the letters 
contained. As a matter of fact, this helped the 
reverend gentleman out of a difficulty. He was an 
excellent man, but, like many others of his cloth, 
he did not know how to preach. In fact, a year or 
two later, I myself wrote one or two sermons for him, 
working into them certain matters of interest to 
the colony. During the earlier part of the siege of 
Paris, however, the reading of my father's letters 
and my own from the pulpit at the close of the 
usual service saved the colony's pastor from the 
trouble of composing a bad sermon, or of picking 
out an indifferent one from some forgotten theological 
work. My father, on arriving at Saint Servan, 
secluded himself as far as possible, so as to rest awhile 
before proceeding to England ; but I went about 
much as usual ; and my letters read from the 
pulpit, and sundry other matters, having made me 
a kind of " public character," I was at once pounced 
upon in the streets, carried off to the club and to 
private houses, and there questioned and cross- 
questioned by a dozen or twenty Crimean and 
Indian veteran officers who were following the 
progress of the war with a passionate interest. 

A year or two previously, moreover, my step- 
mother had formed a close friendship with one of 
the chief French families of the town. The father, 
a retired officer of the French naval service, was 
to have commanded a local Marching Battalion, 
but he unfortunately sickened and died, leaving his 
wife with one daughter, a beautiful girl who was of 
about my own age. Now, this family had been 


joined by the wife's parents, an elderly couple, who, 
on the approach of the Germans to Paris, had 
quitted the suburb where they resided. I was often 
with these friends at Saint Servan, and on arriving 
there from Paris, our conversation naturally turned 
on the war. As the old gentleman's house in the 
environs of the capital was well within the French 
lines, he had not much reason to fear for its safety, 
and, moreover, he had taken the precaution to 
remove his valuables into the city. But he was 
sorely perturbed by all the conflicting news respect- 
ing the military operations in the provinces, the 
reported victories which turned out to be defeats, 
the adverse rumours concerning the condition of 
the French forces, the alleged scandal of the Gamp 
of Conlie, where the more recent Breton levies were 
said to be dying off like rotten sheep, and many 
other matters besides. Every evening when I called 
on these friends the conversation was the same. 
The ladies, the grandmother, the daughter, and the 
granddaughter, sat there making garments for the 
soldiers or preparing lint for the wounded those 
being the constant occupations of the women of 
Brittany during all the hours they could spare from 
their household duties and meanwhile the old gentle- 
man discussed with me both the true and the spurious 
news of the day. The result of those conversations 
was that, as soon as my father had betaken himself 
to England, I resolved to go to the front myself, 
ascertain as much of the truth as I could, and 
become, indeed, a war-correspondent on " my own." 
In forming that decision I was influenced, moreover, 
by one of those youthful dreams which life seldom, 
if ever, fulfils. 



First Efforts of the National Defence Delegates La Motte -Rouge and 
his Dyed Hair The German Advance South of Paris Moltke and 
King William Bourges, the German Objective Characteristics of 
Beauce, Perche, and Sologne French Evacuation of Orleans 
Gambetta arrives at Tours His Coadjutor, Charles Louis de Saulces 
de Freycinet Total Forces of the National Defence on Gambetta's 
Arrival D'Aurelle de Paladines supersedes La Motte-Rouge The 
Affair of Chateaudun Cambriels Garibaldi Jessie White Mario 
Edward Vizetelly Catholic Hatred of Garibaldi The Germans at 
Dijon The projected Relief of Paris Trochu's Errors and Duorot's 
Schemes The French Victory of Coulmiers Change of Plan in Paris 
My Newspaper Work My Brother Adrian Vizetelly The General 

WHEN I reached Brittany, coming from Paris, early 
in the second fortnight of November, the Provincial 
Delegation of the Government of National Defence 
was able to meet the Germans with very consider- 
able forces. But such had not been the case imme- 
diately after Sedan. As I pointed out previously 
quite apart from the flower of the old Imperial Army, 
which was beleaguered around Metz a force far 
too large for mere purposes of defence was confined 
within the lines with which the Germans invested 
Paris. In the provinces, the number of troops ready 
to take the field was very small indeed. Old Cre- 
mieux, the Minister of Justice, was sent out of Paris 
already on September 12, and took with him a certain 
General Lefort, who was to attend to matters of 



military organization in the provinces. But little 
or no confidence was placed in the resources there. 
The military members of the National Defence 
Government General Trochu, its President, and 
General Le Flo, its Minister of War, had not the 
slightest idea that provincial France might be capable 
of a great effort. They relied chiefly on the im- 
prisoned army of Paris, as is shown by all their 
despatches and subsequent apologies. However, 
Glais-Bizoin followed Cremieux to Tours, where it 
had been arranged that the Government Delegation 
should instal itself, and he was accompanied by 
Admiral Fourichon, the Minister of Marine. On 
reaching the Loire region, the new authorities found 
a few battalions of Mobile Guards, ill-armed and ill- 
equipped, a battalion of sharpshooters previously 
brought from Algeria, one or two batteries of artillery, 
and a cavalry division of four regiments commanded 
by General Reyau. This division had been gathered 
together in the final days of the Empire, and was to 
have been sent to Mezieres, to assist MacMahon in 
his effort to succour Bazaine ; but on failing to get 
there, it had made just a few vain attempts to check 
the Germans in their advance on Paris, and had then 
fallen back to the south of the capital. 

General Lefort's first task was to collect the 
necessary elements for an additional army corps 
the 15th and he summoned to his assistance the 
veteran General de la Motte-Rouge, previously a 
very capable officer, but now almost a septuagenarian, 
whose particular fad it was to dye his hair, and thereby 
endeavour to make himself look no more than fifty. 
No doubt, in the seventeenth century, the famous 
Prince de Conde with the eagle glance took a score 
of wigs with him when he started on a campaign ; 


but even such a practice as that is not suited to 
modern conditions of warfare, though be it admitted 
that it takes less time to change one's wig than to 
have one's hair dyed. The latter practice may, of 
course, help a man to cut a fine figure on parade, but 
it is of no utility in the field. In a controversy 
which arose after the publication of Zola's novel 
" La Debacle," there was a conflict of evidence as 
to whether the cheeks of Napoleon III were or were 
not rouged in order to conceal his ghastly pallor 
on the fatal day of Sedan. That may always remain 
a moot point ; but it is, I think, certain that during 
the last two years of his rule his moustache and 
" imperial " were dyed. 

But let me return to the National Defence. 
Paris, as I formerly mentioned, was invested on 
September 19. On the 22nd a Bavarian force occu- 
pied the village of Longjumeau, referred to in my 
account of my journey to Versailles. A couple of 
days later, the Fourth Division of German cavalry, 
commanded by Prince Albert (the elder) of Prussia, 
started southward through the departments of Eure- 
et-Loir and Loiret, going towards Artenay in the 
direction of Orleans. This division, which met at 
first with little opposition, belonged to a force which 
was detached from the main army of the Crown 
Prince of Prussia, and placed under the command 
of the Grand-Duke Frederick Francis of Mecklenburg- 
Schwerin. Near this " Armee-Abtheilung," as the 
Germans called it, was the first Bavarian army corps, 
which had fought at Bazeilles on the day of Sedan. 
It was commanded by General von und zu der Tann- 
Kathsamhausen, commonly called Von der Tann, 
tout court. 

As Prince Albert of Prussia, on drawing near to 


Artenay, found a good many French soldiers, both 
regulars and irregulars, that is Francs-tireurs, located 
in the district, he deemed it best to retire on Toury 
and Pithiviers. But his appearance so far south 
had sufficed to alarm the French commander at 
Orleans, General de Polhes, who at once ordered his 
men to evacuate the city and retire, partly on Blois, 
and partly on La Motte-Beuvron. This pusillani- 
mity incensed the Delegates of the National Defence, 
and Polhes was momentarily superseded by General 
Reyau, and later (October 5) by La Motte-Rouge. 

It is known, nowadays, that the Germans were 
at first perplexed as to the best course to pursue 
after they had completed the investment of Paris. 
Moltke had not anticipated a long siege of the French 
capital. He had imagined that the city would 
speedily surrender, and that the war would then 
come to an end. Fully acquainted with the tract 
of country lying between the Rhine and Paris, he 
had much less knowledge of other parts of France ; 
and, moreover, although he had long known how 
many men could be placed in the field by the military 
organisation of the Empire, he undoubtedly under- 
estimated the further resources of the French, and 
did not anticipate any vigorous provincial resistance. 
His sovereign, King William, formed a more correct 
estimate respecting the prolongation of the struggle, 
and, as was mentioned by me in my previous book 
" Republican France " he more than once recti- 
fied the mistakes which were made by the great 
German strategist. 

The invader's objective with respect to central 
France was Bourges, the old capital of Berry, 
renowned for its ordnance and ammunition works, 
and, in the days when the troops of our Henry V 



overran France, the scene of Charles VII's retire- 
ment, before he was inspirited either by Agnes Sorel 
or by Joan of Arc. To enable an army coming from 
the direction of Paris to seize Bourges, it is in the 
first instance necessary as a reference to any map 
of France will show to secure possession of Orleans, 
which is situated at the most northern point, the 
apex, so to say, of the course of the Loire, and is 
only about sixty-eight miles from Paris. At the 
same time it is advisable that any advance upon 
Orleans should be covered, westward, by a cor- 
responding advance on Chartres, and thence on 
Chateaudun. This became the German plan, and 
whilst a force under General von Wittich marched on 
Chartres, Von der Tann's men approached Orleans 
through the Beauce region. 

From the forest of Dourdan on the north to the 
Loire on the south, and from the Chartres region 
on the west to the Gatinais on the east, this great 
grain-growing plateau (the scene of Zola's famous 
novel " La Terre ") is almost level. Although its 
soil is very fertile there are few watercourses in 
Beauce, none of them, moreover, being of a nature 
to impede the march of an army. The roads are 
lined with stunted elms, and here and there a small 
copse, a straggling farm, a little village, may be seen, 
together with many a row of stacks, the whole forming 
in late autumn and in winter when hurricanes, 
rain, and snow-storms sweep across the great expanse 
as dreary a picture as the most melancholy- 
minded individual could desire. Whilst there is no 
natural obstacle to impede the advance of an invader, 
there is also no cover for purposes of defence. All 
the way from Chartres to Orleans the high-road is 
not once intersected by a river. Nearly all of the 


few streams which exist thereabouts run from south 
to north, and they supply no means of defence against 
an army coming from the direction of Paris. The 
region is one better suited for the employment of 
cavalry and artillery than for that of foot-soldiers. 

The Chartres country is better watered than 
Beauce. Westward, in both of the districts of Perche, 
going either towards Mortagne or towards Nogent- 
le-Rotrou, the country is more hilly and more wooded ; 
and hedges, ditches, and dingle paths abound there. 
In such districts infantry can well be employed for 
defensive purposes. Beyond the Loir not the Loire 
S.S.W. of Chartres, is the Pays Dunois, that is the 
district of Chateaudun, a little town protected on 
the north and the west by the Loir and the Conie, 
and by the hills between which those rivers flow, but 
open to any attack on the east, from which direction, 
indeed, the Germans naturally approached it. 

Beyond the Loire, to the south-east of Beauce 
and Orleans, lies the sheep-breeding region called 
Sologne, which the Germans would have had to 
cross had they prosecuted their intended march on 
Bourges. Here cavalry and artillery are of little use, 
the country abounding in streams, ponds, and 
marshes. Quite apart, however, from natural 
obstacles, no advance on Bourges could well be 
prosecuted so long as the French held Orleans ; and 
even when that city had fallen into the hands of the 
Germans, the presence of large French forces on the 
west compelled the invaders to carry hostilities in 
that direction and abandon their projected march 
southward. Thus the campaign in which I became 
interested was carried on principally in the depart- 
ments of Eure-et-Loir, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, and 
Sarthe, to terminate, at last, in Mayenne. 


Great indiscipline prevailed among the troops 
whom La Motte-Bouge had under his orders. An 
attack by Von der Tann to the north of Orleans on 
October 10, led to the retreat of a part of the French 
forces. On the following day, when the French had 
from 12,000 to 13,000 men engaged, they were badly 
defeated, some 1800 of their men being put hors de 
combat, and as many being taken prisoners. This 
reverse, which was due partly to some mistakes 
made by La Motte-Rouge, and partly to the inferior 
quality of his troops, led to the immediate evacua- 
tion of Orleans. Now, it was precisely at this 
moment that Gambetta appeared upon the scene. 
He had left Paris, it will be remembered, on October 
7 ; on the 8th he was at Rouen, on the 9th he joined 
the other Government delegates at Tours, and on the 
10th the eve of La Motte-Rouge's defeat he became 
Minister of War as well as Minister of the Interior. 

Previously the portfolio for war had been held 
in the provinces by Admiral Fourichon, with General 
Lefort as his assistant ; but Fourichon had resigned 
in connexion with a Communalist rising which had 
taken place at Lyons towards the end of September, 
when the Prefect, Challemel-Lacour, was momen- 
tarily made a prisoner by the insurgents, but was 
afterwards released by some loyal National Guards.* 
Complaining that General Mazure, commander of 
the garrison, had not done his duty on this occasion, 
Challemel-Lacour caused him to be arrested, and 
Fourichon, siding with the general, thereupon resigned 
the War Ministry, Cremieux taking it over until 
Gambetta's arrival. It may well be asked how one 
could expect the military affairs of France to prosper 

* See my book, " The Anarchists : Their Faith and their Record," 
John Lane, 1911. 


when they were subordinated to such wretched 

Among the men whom Gambetta found at Tours, 
was an engineer, who, after the Revolution of 
September 4, had been appointed Prefect of Tarn- 
et-Garonne, but who, coming into conflict with the 
extremists of Montauban, much as Challemel-Lacour 
had come into conflict with those of Lyons, had 
promptly resigned his functions. His name was 
Charles Louis de Saulces de Freycinet, and, though 
he was born at Foix near the Pyrenees, he belonged 
to an ancient family of Dauphine. At this period 
(October, 1870), Freycinet had nearly completed his 
forty-second year. After qualifying as an engineer 
at the Ecole Polytechnique, he had held various 
posts at Mont-de-Marsan, Chartres, and Bordeaux, 
before securing in 1864 the position of traffic-manager 
to the Chemin de Fer du Midi. Subsequently he was 
entrusted with various missions abroad, and in 1869 
the Institute of France crowned a little work of his 
on the employment of women and children in English 
factories. Mining engineering was his speciality, but 
he was extremely versatile and resourceful, and imme- 
diately attracted the notice of Gambetta. Let it be 
said to the latter 's credit that in that hour of crisis 
he cast all prejudices aside. He cared nothing for 
the antecedents of any man who was willing to co- 
operate in the defence of France ; and thus, although 
Freycinet came of an ancient aristocratic house, and 
had made his way under the Empire, which had 
created him first a chevalier and then an officer of 
the Legion of Honour, Gambetta at once selected 
him to act as his chef-de-cabinet, and delegate in 
military affairs. 

At this moment the National Defence had in or 


ready for the field only 40,000 regular infantry, a 
like number of Mobile Guards, from 5000 to 6000 
cavalry, and about 100 guns, some of antiquated 
models and with very few men to serve them. 
There were certainly a good many men at various 
regimental depots, together with Mobile Guards and 
National Guards in all the uninvaded provinces of 
France ; but all these had to be drilled, equipped, 
and armed. That was the first part of the great 
task which lay before Gambetta and Freycinet. 
Within a month, however leaving aside what was 
done in other parts of the country France had 
on the Loire alone an army of 100,000 men, who for 
a moment, at all events, turned the tide of war. 
At the same time I would add that, before Gambetta's 
arrival on the scene, the National Defence Delegates 
had begun to concentrate some small bodies of 
troops both in Normandy and in Picardy and Artois, 
the latter forming the first nucleus of the Army of 
the North which Faidherbe afterwards commanded. 
Further, in the east of France there was a force under 
General Cambriels, whose object was to cut the 
German communications in the Vosges. 

Von der Tann, having defeated La Motte-Rouge, 
occupied Orleans, whilst the French withdrew across 
the Loire to La Motte-Beuvron and Gien, south and 
south-east of then 1 former position. Gambetta had 
to take action immediately. He did so by removing 
La Motte-Rouge from his command, which he gave 
to D'Aurelle de Paladines. The latter, a general 
on the reserve list, with a distinguished record, was 
in his sixty-sixth year, having been born at Languedoc 
in 1804. He had abilities as an organiser, and was 
known to be a disciplinarian, but he was growing 
old, and lacked confidence both in himself and in his 


men. At the moment of D'Aurelle's appointment, 
Von der Tann wished to advance on Bourges, in accord- 
ance with Moltke's instructions, and, in doing so, he 
proposed to evacuate Orleans ; but this was forbidden 
by King William and the Crown Prince, and in the 
result the Bavarian general suffered a repulse at 
Salbris, which checked his advance southward. 
Still covering Bourges and Vierzon, D'Aurelle soon 
had 60,000 men under his orders, thanks to the 
efforts of Gambetta and Freycinet. But the enemy 
were now making progress to the west of Orleans, 
in which direction the tragic affair of Chateauduii 
occurred on October 18. The German column 
operating on that side under General von Wittich 
consisted of 6000 infantry, four batteries, and a 
cavalry regiment, which advanced on Chateauduii 
from the east, and, on being resisted by the villagers 
of Varize and Civry, shot them down without mercy, 
and set all their houses (about 130 in number) on 
fire. Nevertheless, that punishment did not deter 
the National Guards of Chateaudun, and the Francs- 
tireurs who had joined them, from offering the most 
strenuous opposition to the invaders, though the 
latter's numerical superiority alone was as seven to 
one. The fierce fight was followed by terrible scenes. 
Most of the Francs-tireurs, who had not fallen in the 
engagement, effected a retreat, and on discovering 
this, the infuriated Germans, to whom the mere 
name of Franc-tireur was as a red rag to a bull, 
did not scruple to shoot down a number of non- 
combatants, including women and children. 

I remember the excitement which the news of 
the Chateaudun affair occasioned in besieged Paris ; 
and when I left the capital a few weeks later I heard 
it constantly spoken of. In vain did the Germans 


strive to gloss over the truth. The proofs were too 
numerous and the reality was too dreadful. Two 
hundred and thirty-five of the devoted little town's 
houses were committed to the flames. For the first 
time in the whole course of the war women were 
deliberately assaulted, and a couple of German 
Princes disgraced their exalted station in a drunken 
and incendiary orgie. 

Meantime, hi the east of France, Cambriels had 
failed in his attempt to cut the German communi- 
cations, and had been compelled to beat a retreat. 
It must be said for him that his troops were a very 
sorry lot, who could not be depended upon. Not 
only were they badly disciplined and addicted to 
drunkenness, but they took to marauding and pillage, 
and were in no degree a match for the men whom 
the German General von Werder led against them. 
Garibaldi, the Italian Liberator, had offered his 
sword to France, soon after the fall of the Second 
Empire. On October 8 that is, a day before Gam- 
betta he arrived at Tours, to arrange for a command, 
like that of Cambriels, in the east of France. The 
little Army of the Vosges, which was eventually con- 
stituted under his orders, was made up of very hetero- 
geneous elements. Italians, Switzers, Poles, Hun- 
garians, Englishmen, as well as Frenchmen, were to 
be found in its ranks. The general could not be 
called a very old man, being indeed only sixty-three 
years of age, but he had led an eventful and arduous 
life ; and, as will be remembered, ever since the 
affair of Aspromonte in 1862, he had been lame, 
and had gradually become more and more infirm. 
He had with him, however, two of his sons, Menotti 
and Ricciotti (the second a more competent soldier 
than the first), and several able men, such as his 


compatriot Lobbia, and the Pole, Bosak-Hauke. His 
chief of staff, Bordone, previously a navy doctor, 
was, however, a very fussy individual who imagined 
himself to be a military genius. Among the English- 
men with Garibaldi were Robert Middleton and my 
brother Edward Vizetelly ; * and there was an 
Englishwoman, Jessie White Mario, daughter of 
White the boat-builder of Cowes, and widow of 
Mario, Garibaldi's companion in arms in the glorious 
Liberation days. My brother often told me that 
Mme. Mario was equally at home in an ambulance 
or in a charge, for she was an excellent nurse and an 
admirable horsewoman as well as a good shot. She 
is one of the women of whom I think when I hear or 
read that the members of the completing sex cannot 
fight. But that of course is merely the opinion of 
some medical and newspaper men. 

Mme. Mario contributed a certain number of 
articles to the Daily News. So did my brother it 
was indeed as Daily News correspondent that he 
first joined Garibaldi's forces but he speedily became 
an orderly to the general, and later a captain on the 
staff. He was at the battles of Dijon and Autun, 
and served under Lobbia in the relief of Langres. 
Some French historians of these later days have 
written so slightingly of the little Army of the Vosges, 
that I am sorry my brother did not leave any per- 
manent record of his experiences. Garibaldi's task 
was no easy one. In the first instance, the National 
Defence hesitated to employ him ; secondly, they 
wished to subordinate him to Cambriels, and he 
declined to take any such position; not that he 
objected to serve under any superior commander 
who would treat him fairly, but because he, 

* See pp. 9, 14, 17, 50, ante. 


Garibaldi, was a freethinker, and knew that he was 
bitterly detested by the fervently Catholic generals, 
such as Cambriels. As it happened, he secured an 
independent command. But in exercising it he had 
to co-operate with Cambriels in various ways, and 
in later years my brother told me how shamefully 
Cambriels acted more than once towards the Gari- 
baldian force. It was indeed a repetition of what 
had occurred at the very outset of the war, when 
such intense jealousy had existed among certain 
marshals and generals that one had preferred to 
let another be defeated rather than march " at the 
sound of the guns " to his assistance. 

I also remember my brother telling me that when 
Langres (which is in the Haute Marne, west of the 
Aube and the Cote d'Or) was relieved by Lobbia's 
column, the commander of the garrison refused at 
first to let the Garibaldians enter the town. He 
was prepared to surrender to the Germans, if neces- 
sary ; but the thought that he, a devout Catholic, 
should owe any assistance to such a band of un- 
believing brigands as the Garibaldian enemies of the 
Pope was absolutely odious to him. Fortunately, 
this kind of feeling did not show itself in western 
France. There was, at one moment, some little 
difficulty respecting the position of Cathelineau, the 
descendant of the famous Vendeen leader, but, on 
the whole, Catholics, Royalists, and Republicans 
loyally supported one another, fired by a common 

The failure of Cambriel's attempts to cut the 
German communications, and the relatively small 
importance of the Garibaldian force, inspired Gam- 
betta with the idea of forming a large Army of the 
East which, with Langres, Belfort, and Besaii9on as 


its bases, would vigorously assume the offensive in 
that part of France. Moltke, however, had already 
sent General von Werder orders to pursue the re- 
treating Cambriels. Various engagements, late in 
October, were followed by a German march on Dijon. 
There were at this time 12,000 or 13,000 Mobile 
Guards in the Cote d'Or, but no general in command 
of them. Authority was exercised by a civilian, 
Dr. Lavalle. The forces assembled at Dijon and 
Beaune amounted, inclusive of regulars and National 
Guards, to about 20,000 men, but they were very 
badly equipped and armed, and their officers were 
few in number and of very indifferent ability. Werder 
came down on Dijon in a somewhat hesitating way, 
like a man who is not sure of his ground or of the 
strength of the enemy in front of him. But the 
French were alarmed by his approach, and on 
October 30 Dijon was evacuated, and soon after- 
wards occupied by Werder with two brigades. 

Three days previously Metz had surrendered, and 
France was reeling under the unexpected blow in 
spite of all the ardent proclamations with which 
Gambetta strove to impart hope and stimulate 
patriotism. Bazaine's capitulation naturally im- 
plied the release of the forces under Prince Frederick 
Charles, by which he had been invested, and their 
transfer to other parts of France for a more vigorous 
prosecution of the invasion. Werder, after occupying 
Dijon, was to have gone westward through the 
Nivernais in order to assist other forces in the designs 
on Bourges. But some days before Metz actually 
fell, Moltke sent him different instructions, setting 
forth that he was to take no further account of 
Bourges, but to hold Dijon, and concentrate at 
Vesoul, keeping a watch on Langres and Besan9on. 


For a moment, however, 3600 French under an 
officer named Fauconnet suddenly recaptured Dijon, 
though there were more than 10,000 Badeners in- 
stalled there under General von Beyer. Unfortu- 
nately Fauconnet was killed in the affair, a fresh 
evacuation of the Burgundian capital ensued, and 
the Germans then remained in possession of the city 
for more than a couple of months. 

In the west the army of the Loire was being 
steadily increased and consolidated, thanks to the un- 
tiring efforts of Gambetta, Freycinet, and D'Aurelle, 
the last of whom certainly contributed largely to 
the organization of the force, though he was little 
inclined to quit his lines and assume the offensive. 
It was undoubtedly on this army that Gambetta 
based his principal hopes. The task assigned to it 
was greater than those allotted to any of the other 
armies which were gradually assuming shape 
being, indeed, the relief of beleaguered Paris. 

Trochu's own memoirs show that at the outset 
of the siege his one thought was to remain on the 
defensive. In this connexion it is held, nowadays, 
that he misjudged the German temperament, that 
remembering the vigorous attempts of the Allies 
on Sebastopol he was, as we know, in the Crimea 
at the time he imagined that the Germans would 
make similarly vigorous attempts on Paris. He did 
not expect a long and so to say passive siege, a mere 
blockade during which the investing army would 
simply content itself with repulsing the efforts of 
the besieged to break through its lines. He knew 
that the Germans had behaved differently in the 
case of Strasbourg and some other eastern strong- 
holds, and anticipated a similar line of action with 
respect to the French capital. But the Germans 


preferred to follow a waiting policy towards both 
Metz and Paris. It has been said that this was less 
the idea of Moltke than that of Bismarck, whose 
famous phrase about letting the Parisians stew in 
their own juice will be remembered. But one should 
also recollect that both Metz and Paris were defended 
by great forces, and that there was little likelihood 
of any coup de main succeeding ; whilst, as for bom- 
bardment, though it might have some moral, it 
would probably have very little material effect. 
Metz was not really bombarded, and the attempt to 
bombard Paris was deferred for several months. 
When it at last took place a certain number of 
buildings were damaged, 100 persons were killed and 
200 persons wounded a material effect which can 
only be described as absolutely trivial in the case of 
so great and so populous a city. 

Trochu's idea to remain merely on the defensive 
did not appeal to his coadjutor General Ducrot. 
The latter had wished to break through the German 
lines on the day of Sedan, and he now wished to 
break through them round Paris. Various schemes 
occurred to him. One was to make a sortie in the 
direction of Le Bourget and the plain of Saint 
Denis, but it seemed useless to attempt to break 
out on the north, as the Germans held Laon, Soissons, 
La Fere, and Amiens. There was also an idea of 
making an attempt on the south, in the direction 
of Villejuif, but everything seemed to indicate that 
the Germans were extremely strong on this side of 
the city and occupied no little of the surrounding 
country. The question of a sortie on the east, across 
the Marne, was also mooted and dismissed for various 
reasons ; the idea finally adopted being to break 
out by way of the Gennevilliers peninsula formed by 


the course of the Seine on the north-west, and then 
(the heights of Cormeil having been secured) to 
cross the Oise, and afterwards march on Rouen, where 
it would be possible to victual the army. Moreover, 
instructions were to be sent into the provinces in 
order that both the forces on the Loire and those in 
the north might bear towards Normandy, and there 
join the army from Paris, in such wise that there 
would be a quarter of a million men between Dieppe, 
Rouen, and Caen. Trochu ended by agreeing to 
this scheme, and even entertained a hope that he 
might be able to revictual Paris by way of the Seine, 
for which purpose a flotilla of boats was prepared. 
Ducrot and he expected to be ready by November 
15 or 20, but it is said that they were hampered in 
their preparations by the objections raised by Guiod 
and Chabaud-Latour, the former an engineer, and 
the latter an artillery general. Moreover, the course 
of events in the provinces suddenly caused a complete 
reversal of Ducrot's plans. 

On November 9, D'Aurelle de Paladines defeated 
Von der Tann at Coulmiers, west of Orleans. The 
young French troops behaved extremely well, but 
the victory not being followed up with sufficient 
vigour by D'Aurelle, remained somewhat incomplete, 
though it constrained the Germans to evacuate 
Orleans. On the whole this was the first consider- 
able success achieved by the French since the be- 
ginning of the war, and it did much to revive the 
spirits which had been drooping since the fall of 
Metz. Another of its results was to change Ducrot's 
plans respecting the Paris sortie. He and Trochu 
had hitherto taken little account of the provincial 
armies, and the success of Coulmiers came to them 
as a surprise and a revelation. There really was an 


army of the Loire, then, and it was advancing on 
Paris from Orleans. The Parisian forces must there- 
fore break out on the south-east and join hands with 
this army of relief in or near the forest of Fontaine- 
bleau. Thus, all the preparations for a sortie by 
way of Gennevilliers were abandoned, and followed 
by others for an attempt in the direction of Cham- 

Such was roughly the position at the time when 
I reached Brittany and conceived the idea of joining 
the French forces on the Loire and forwarding some 
account of their operations to England. During 
my stay in Paris with my father I had assisted him 
in preparing several articles, and had written others 
on my own account. My eldest brother, Adrian 
Vizetelly, was at this time assistant-secretary at the 
Institution of Naval Architects. He had been a 
student at the Royal School of Naval Architecture 
with the Whites, Elgars, Yarrows, Turnbulls, and 
other famous shipbuilders, and on quitting it had 
taken the assistant-secretaryship in question as an 
occupation pending some suitable vacancy in the 
Government service or some large private yard. The 
famous naval constructor, E. J. Reed, had started 
in life in precisely the same post, and it was, indeed, 
at his personal suggestion that my brother took it. 
A year or two later he and his friend Dr. Francis 
Elgar, subsequently Director of Dockyards and one 
of the heads of the Fairfield Shipbuilding Com- 
pany, were assisting Reed to run his review Naval 
Science. At the time of the Franco-German war, 
however, my brother, then in his twenty-sixth year, 
was writing on naval subjects for the Daily News 
and the Pall Mall Gazette, edited respectively 
by John Robinson and Frederick Greenwood. A 


few articles written by me during my siege days 
were sent direct to the latter by balloon-post, but I 
knew not what their fate might be. The Pall Mall 
might be unable to use them, and there was no possi- 
bility of their being returned to me in Paris. My 
father, whom I assisted in preparing a variety of 
articles, suggested that everything of this kind that 
is, work not intended for the Illustrated London News 
should be sent to my brother for him to deal with 
as opportunity offered. He placed a few articles 
with The Times notably some rather long ones on 
the fortifications and armament of Paris, whilst 
others went to the Daily News and the Pall Mall. 

When, after coming out of Paris, I arrived in 
Brittany, I heard that virtually everything sent 
from the capital by my father or myself had been 
used in one or another paper, and was not a little 
pleased to receive a draft on a Saint Malo banking- 
house for my share of the proceeds. This money 
enabled me to proceed, in the first instance, in the 
direction of Le Mans, which the Germans were already 
threatening. Before referring, however, to my own 
experiences I must say something further respecting 
the general position. The battle of Coulmiers 
(November 9) was followed by a period of inaction 
on the part of the Loire Army. Had D'Aurelle pur- 
sued Von der Tann he might have turned his barren 
victory to good account. But he had not much 
confidence in his troops, and the weather was bad 
sleet and snow falling continually. Moreover, the 
French commander believed that the Bavarian 
retreat concealed a trap. At a conference held 
between him, Gambetta, Freycinet, and the generals 
at the head of the various army corps, only one of 
the latter Chanzy favoured an immediate march 


on Paris. Borel, who was chief of D'Aurelle's staff, 
proposed to confine operations to an advance on 
Chartres, which would certainly have been a good 
position to occupy, for it would have brought the 
army nearer to the capital, giving it two railway 
lines, those of Le Mans and Granville, for revictualling 
purposes, and enabling it to retreat on Brittany in 
the event of any serious reverse. But no advance 
at all was made. The Germans were allowed all 
necessary time to increase their forces, the French 
remaining inactive within D'Aurelle's lines, and their 
morale steadily declining by reason of the hardships 
to which they were subjected. The general-in-chief 
refused to billet them in the villages for fear, said 
he, of indiscipline and compelled them to bivouack, 
under canvas, in the mud ; seldom, moreover, 
allowing any fires to be kindled. For a score of 
days did this state of affairs continue, and the 
effect of it was seen at the battle of Beaune-la- 

The responsibility for the treatment of the troops 
rests on D'Aurelle's memory and that of some of his 
fellow-generals. Meantime, Gambetta and Freycinet 
were exerting themselves to improve the situation 
generally. They realized that the release of Prince 
Frederick Charles's forces from the investment of 
Metz necessitated the reinforcement of the Army 
of the Loire, and they took steps accordingly. Cam- 
briels had now been replaced in eastern France by a 
certain General Michel, who lost his head and was 
superseded by his comrade Crouzat. The last-named 
had with him 30,000 men and 40 guns to contend 
against the 21,000 men and the 70 guns of Werder's 
army. In order to strengthen the Loire forces, 
however, half of Crouzat's men and he himself 


received orders to approach Orleans by way of 
Nevers and Gien, the remainder of his army being 
instructed to retire on Lyons, in order to quiet the 
agitation prevailing in that city, which regarded 
itself as defenceless and complained bitterly thereof, 
although there was no likelihood at all of a German 
attack for at least some time to come. 

The new arrangements left Garibaldi chief com- 
mander in eastern France, though the forces directly 
under his orders did not at this time exceed 5000 
men, and included, moreover, no fewer than sixty 
petty free-corps, who cared little for discipline.* A 
month or two previously the advent of from twenty 
to thirty thousand Italian volunteers had been con- 
fidently prophesied, but very few of these came 
forward. Nevertheless, Ricciotti Garibaldi (with 
whom was my brother Edward) defeated a German 
force in a sharp engagement at Chatillon-sur-Seine 
(November 19), and a week later the Garibaldians 
made a gallant attempt to recapture the city of 
Dijon. Five thousand men, however, were of no 
avail against an army corps; and thus, even if the 
Garibaldian attack had momentarily succeeded, it 
would have been impossible to hold Dijon against 
Werder's troops. The attempt having failed, the 
German commander resolved to crush the Army 
of the Vosges, which fled and scattered, swiftly 
pursued by a brigade under General von Keller. 
Great jealousy prevailed at this moment among the 
French generals in command of various corps which 
might have helped the Garibaldians. Bressolles, 
Crevisier, and Cremer were at loggerheads. On 
November 30. the last-named fought an indecisive 

* There were women in several of these companies, one of the latter 
including no fewer than eighteen amazons. 


action at Nuits, followed nearly three weeks later by 
another in which he claimed the victory. 

Meantime, Crouzat's force, now known as the 
20th Army Corps, had been moving on Nevers. To 
assist the Loire Army yet further, General Bourbaki 
had been summoned from the north-west of France. 
At the fall of the Empire the defence in that part 
of the country had been entrusted to Fririon, whom 
Espinet de la Villeboisnet succeeded. The resources 
at the disposal of both those generals were very 
limited, confined, indeed, to men of the regimental 
depots, and some Mobile Guards. There was a 
deficiency both of officers and of weapons, and in 
the early skirmishes which took place with the 
enemy, the principal combatants were armed peasants, 
rural firemen, and the National Guards of various 
towns. It is true that for a while the German force 
consisted only of a battalion of infantry and some 
Saxon cavalry. Under Anatole de la Forge, Prefect 
of the Aisne, the open town of Saint Quentin offered 
a gallant resistance to the invader, but although this 
had some moral effect, its importance was not great. 
Bourbaki, who succeeded La Villeboisnet in command 
of the region, was as diffident respecting the value of 
his troops as was D'Aurelle on the Loire. He had 
previously commanded the very pick of the French 
army, that is the Imperial Guard, and the men now 
placed under his orders were by no means of the 
same class. Bourbaki was at this time only fifty- 
four years of age, and when, after being sent out of 
Metz on a mission to the Empress Eugenie at Hastings, 
he had offered his services to the National Defence, 
the latter had given him the best possible welcome. 
But he became one of the great military failures of 
the period. 


After the fall of Metz the Germans despatched 
larger forces under Manteuffel into north-west France. 
Altogether there were 35,000 infantry and 4000 
cavalry, with 174 guns, against a French force of 
22,000 men who were distributed with 60 guns over 
a front of some thirty miles, their object being to 
protect both Amiens and Rouen. When Bourbaki 
was summoned to the Loire, he left Farre as chief 
commander in the north, with Faidherbe and Le- 
cointe as his principal lieutenants. There was bad 
strategy on both sides, but La Fere capitulated 
to the Germans on November 26, and Amiens on 
the 29th. 

Meantime, the position in beleaguered Paris was 
becoming very bad. Some ten thousand men, 
either of the regular or the auxiliary forces, were 
laid up in hospital, less on account of wounds than 
of disease. Charcoal f or cooking purposes according 
to the orthodox French system was being strictly 
rationed. On November 20 only a certain number 
of milch cows and a few hundred oxen, reserved for 
hospital and ambulance patients, remained of all 
the bovine live stock collected together before the 
siege. At the end of November, 500 horses were 
being slaughtered every day. On the other hand, 
the bread allowance had been raised from750 grammes 
to a kilogramme per diem, and a great deal of bread 
was given to the horses as food. Somewhat un- 
certain communications had been opened with the 
provinces by means of pigeon-post, the first pigeon 
to bring despatches into the city arriving there on 
November 15. The despatches, photographed on 
the smallest possible scale, were usually enclosed in 
quills fastened under one or another of the birds' 
wings. Each balloon that left the city now took 


with it a certain number of carrier-pigeons for this 
service. Owing, however, to the bitter cold which 
prevailed that winter, many of the birds perished on 
the return journey, and thus the despatches they 
carried did not reach Paris. Whenever any such 
communications arrived there, they had to be 
enlarged by means of a magic-lantern contrivance, 
in order that they might be deciphered. Meantime, 
the aeronauts leaving the city conveyed Government 
despatches as well as private correspondence, and in 
this wise Trochu was able to inform Gambetta that 
the army of Paris intended to make a great effort 
on November 29. 


The German Advance Westward Gambetta at Le Mans The " Army 
of Brittany " and Count de Keratry The Camp of Conlie The 
Breton Marching Division Keratry resigns The Champigny Sortie 
from Paris The dilatory D'Aurelle The pitiable 20th Army Corps 
Battles of Beaune-la-Rolande and Loigny Loss of Orleans 
D'Aurelle superseded by Chanzy Chanzy's Slow Retreat The 21st 
Corps summoned to the Front I march with the Breton Division 
Marchenoir and Freteval Our Retreat Our Rearguard Action at 
Droue Behaviour of the Inhabitants We fight our Way from 
Fontenelle to Saint Agil Guns and Quagmires Our Return to 
Le Mans I proceed to Rennes and Saint Malo. 

AFTER the Chateaudun affair the Germans secured 
possession of Chartres, whence they proceeded to 
raid the department of the Eure. Going by way of 
Nogent-le-Roi and Chateauneuf-en-Thimerais, they 
seized the old ecclesiastical town of Evreux on 
November 19, whereupon the French hastily re- 
treated into the Orne. Some minor engagements 
followed, all to the advantage of the Germans, who 
on the 22nd attacked and occupied the ancient and 
strategically important town of Nogent-le-Rotrou 
the lordship of which, just prior to the great Revolu- 
tion, belonged to the family of the famous Count 
D'Orsay, the lover of Lady Blessington and the 
friend of Napoleon III. The occupation of Nogent 
brought the Germans to a favourable point on the 
direct railway-line between Paris and Le Mans, the 
capital of Maine. The region had been occupied 



by a somewhat skeleton French, army corps the 
21st commanded by a certain General Fiereck. 
On the loss of Nogent, Gambetta immediately re- 
placed him by one of the many naval officers who 
were now with the French armies, that is Post- 
Captain (later Admiral) Constant Jaures, uncle of 
the famous Socialist leader of more recent times. 
Jaures at once decided to retreat on Le Mans, a 
distance of rather more than a hundred miles, and 
this was effected within two days, but under lament- 
able circumstances. Thousands of starving men 
deserted, and others were only kept with the columns 
by the employment of cavalry and the threat of 
turning the artillery upon them. 

Directly Gambetta heard of the state of affairs, 
he hastened to Le Mans to provide for the defence 
of that extremely important point, where no fewer 
than five great railway lines converged, those of 
Paris, Alen9on, Rennes, Angers, and Tours. The 
troops commanded by Jaures were in a very deplor- 
able condition, and it was absolutely necessary to 
strengthen them. It so happened that a large body 
of men was assembled at Conlie, sixteen or seven- 
teen miles away. They formed what was called 
the " Army of Brittany," and were commanded by 
Count Emile de Keratry, the son of a distinguished 
politician and literary man who escaped the guillotine 
during the Reign of Terror. The Count himself had 
sat in the Legislative Body of the Second Empire, 
but had begun life as a soldier, serving both in the 
Crimea and in Mexico, in which latter country he had 
acted as one of Bazaine's orderly officers. At the 
Revolution Keratry was appointed Prefect of Police, 
but on October 14 he left Paris by balloon, being 
entrusted by Trochu and Jules Favre with a mission 


to Prim, in the hope that he might secure Spanish 
support for France. Prim and his colleagues refused 
to intervene, however, and Keratry then hastened 
to Tours, where he placed himself at the disposal 
of Gambetta, with whom he was on terms of close 
friendship. It was arranged between them that 
Keratry should gather together all the available 
men who were left in Brittany, and train and organize 
them, for which purposes a camp was established 
at Conlie, north-west of Le Mans. 

Conlie was the first place which I decided to visit 
on quitting Saint Servan. The most appalling 
rumours were current throughout Brittany respecting 
the new camp. It was said to be grossly mismanaged 
and to be a hotbed of disease. I visited it, collected 
a quantity of information, and prepared an article 
which was printed by the Daily News and attracted 
considerable attention, being quoted by several 
other London papers and taken in two instances as 
the text for leading articles. So far as the camp's 
defences and the arming of the men assembled 
within it were concerned, my strictures were fully 
justified, but certain official documents, subsequently 
published, indicate that I was in error on some 
points. The whole question having given rise to a 
good deal of controversy among writers on the 
Franco-German War some of them regarding Conlie 
as a flagrant proof of Gambetta's mismanagement of 
military affairs I will here set down what I believe 
to be strictly the truth respecting it. 

The camp was established near the site of an old 
Roman one, located between Conlie and Domfront, 
the principal part occupying some rising ground in 
the centre of an extensive valley. It was intended 
to be a training camp rather than an entrenched 


and fortified one, though a redoubt was erected on 
the south, and some works were begun on the 
northern and the north-eastern sides. When the 
Grand Duke of Mecklenburg reached Conlie after 
the battle of Le Mans, he expressed his surprise that 
the French had not fortified so good a position more 
seriously, and defended it with vigour. Both the 
railway line and the high-road between Laval and 
Le Mans were near at hand, and only a few miles 
away there was the old town of Sille-le-Guillaume, 
one of the chief grain and cattle markets of the region. 
There was considerable forest-land in the vicinity, 
and wood was abundant. But there was no water- 
course, and the wells of the various adjacent little 
farms yielded but a very inadequate supply of water 
for a camp in which at one moment some 40,000 
men were assembled. Thus, at the outset, the camp 
lacked one great essential, and such was the case 
when I visited it in November. But I am bound 
to add that a source was soon afterwards found in 
the very centre of the camp, and tapped so success- 
fully by means of a steam-pumping arrangement 
that it ended by yielding over 300,000 litres of water 
per diem. The critics of the camp have said that 
the spot was very damp and muddy, and therefore 
necessarily unhealthy, and there is truth in that 
assertion ; but the same might be remarked of all 
the camps of the period, notably that of D'Aurelle 
de Paladines in front of Orleans. Moreover, when a 
week's snow was followed by a fortnight's thaw, 
matters could scarcely be different.* 

* From first to last (November 12 to January 7) 1942 cases of illness 
were treated in the five ambulances of the camp. Among them were 
264 cases of small-pox. There were a great many instances of bronchitis 
and kindred affections, but not many of dysentery. Among the small-pox 
cases 88 proved fatal. 


I find on referring to documents of the period 
that on November 23, the day before Gambetta 
visited the camp, as I shall presently relate, the total 
effective was 665 officers with 23,881 men. By 
December 5 (although a marching division of about 
12,000 men had then left for the front) the effective 
had risen to 1241 officers with about 40,000 men.* 
There were 40 guns for the defence of the camp, and 
some 50 field-pieces of various types, often, however, 
without carriages and almost invariably without 
teams. At no time, I find, were there more than 
360 horses and fifty mules in the camp. There was 
also a great scarcity of ammunition for the guns. 
On November 23, the 24,000 men assembled in the 
camp had between them the following firearms and 
ammunition : 

Weapons Cartridges 

Spencers (without bayonets) 6,000 912,060 




Muskets of various types . . 


2,080 100,000 

2,000 218,000 

1,866 170,000 

9,684 Insufficient 

500 Sufficient 


Such things as guns, gun-carriages, firearms, 
cartridges, bayonets, and so forth formed the subject 
of innumerable telegrams and letters exchanged 
between Keratry and the National Defence Dele- 
gation at Tours. The former was constantly 
receiving promises from Gambetta, which were 
seldom kept, supplies at first intended for him being 
at the last moment sent in other directions, according 
to the more pressing requirements of the hour. 
Moreover, a good many of the weapons which 

* The rationing of the men cost on an average about Id. per diem. 


Keratry actually received were defective. In the 
early days of the camp, many of the men were given 
staves broom-sticks in some instances for use at 

When Gambetta arrived at Le Mans after Jaures 
had retreated thither, he learnt that action had 
become the more urgent as the Germans were steadily 
prosecuting their advance. By orders of the Grand 
Duke of Mecklenburg, to whose army these forces 
belonged, the French were followed to La Ferte- 
Bernard ; and whilst one German column then went 
west towards Saint Cosme, another advanced south- 
ward to Vibraye, thus seriously threatening Le 
Mans. Such was the position on November 23. 
Fortunately, Freycinet was able to send Jaures 
reinforcements which brought his effective to about 
35,000 men, and at the same time Gambetta urged 
Keratry to prepare a marching division of the men 
at Conlie. Early on the 24th, Gambetta (who, by 
the way, had travelled from Tours to Le Mans at 
full speed on a railway engine) visited the camp, 
and expressed his approval of all he saw there. I 
caught a glimpse of him, muffled in his fur coat, and 
looking, as well he might, intensely cold. His orders 
to Keratry were to proceed to Saint Calais, and thence 
to the forest of Vibraye, so as to cover Le Mans on 
the east. It took fourteen hours and twenty-one 
trains to convey the marching division to Yvre 
1'Eveque on the Huisne, just beyond Le Mans. The 
effective of the division was roughly 12,000 men, 
nearly all of them being Breton Mobilises. The 
artillery consisted of one battery of 12's, and one of 
4's, with the necessary horses, two batteries of 4's 
dragged by naval volunteers, and several Gatling 
guns, which had only just been delivered. These 


Gatlings, which at that time were absolutely unknown 
in France, were not mounted, but packed in sections 
in sealed zinc cases, which were opened in the railway 
vans on the journey, the guns being there put together 
by a young naval officer and a couple of civilian 
engineers. A little later the artillery of the force 
was augmented. 

After these troops had taken up position at Yvre, 
in order to prevent the enemy from crossing the 
Huisne, various conferences were held between Gam- 
betta, Jaures, and Keratry. General Le Bouedec 
had been left in command at Conlie, and General 
Trinite had been selected to command the marching 
division of the Bretons. From the very outset, 
however, Keratry objected to the plans of Gambetta 
and Jaures, and, for the moment, the duties of the 
Bretons were limited to participating in a recon- 
naissance on a somewhat large scale two columns 
of Jaures 5 forces, under Generals Colin and Rousseau, 
joining in this movement, which was directed chiefly 
on Bouloire, midway between Le Mans and Saint 
Calais on the east. When Bouloire was reached, 
however, the Germans who had momentarily occu- 
pied it had retired, and the French thereupon with- 
drew to their former positions near Le Mans. 

Then came trouble. v Gambetta placed Keratry 
under the orders of Jaures, and Keratry would not 
accept the position. Great jealousy prevailed between 
these two men ; Keratry, who had served ten years 
in the French Army, claiming that he knew a good 
deal more about military matters than Jaures, who, 
as I previously mentioned, had hitherto been a naval 
officer. In the end Keratry threw up his command. 
Le Bouedec succeeded him at Conlie, and Frigate- 
Captain Gougeard (afterwards Minister of Marine in 


Gambetta's Great Ministry) took charge of the 
Bretons at Yvre, where he exerted himself to bring 
them to a higher state of efficiency. 

I must now refer to some other matters. Trochu 
had informed Gambetta of his intention to make a 
sortie on the south-eastern side of Paris. The plans 
adopted were mainly those of Ducrot, who took chief 
command. A diversion made by Vinoy to the south 
of the city on November 29 gave the Germans an 
inkling of what was intended, and proved a fruitless 
venture which cost the French 1000 men. Another 
diversion attempted by General Susbielle on 
November 30 led to a similar result, with a loss of 
1200 men. Ducrot, however, crossed the Marne, 
and very desperate fighting ensued at Champigny 
and neighbouring localities. But Ducrot's force 
(less than 100,000 men) was insufficient for his pur- 
pose. The weather, moreover, was extremely cold, 
the men had brought with them neither tents nor 
blankets, and had to bivouac without fires. Accord- 
ing toTrochu's memoirs there was also an insufficiency 
of ammunition. Thus the Champigny sortie failed, 
and the French retired to their former lines.* 

At the very moment when the Army of Paris 
was in full retreat, the second battle of Orleans was 
beginning. Gambetta and Freycinet wished D' Aurelle 
to advance with the Loire Army in order to meet the 
Parisians, who, if victorious, were expected to march 
on Fontainebleau by way of Melun. In the latter 
days of November D' Aurelle was still covering 
Orleans on the north with the 15th and 16th army 
corps (Generals Martin des Pallieres and Chanzy). 
On his left was the 17th under Durrieu, who, a few 

* From November 30 to December 3 the French lost 9482 men ; and 
the Germans 5238 men. 


days later, was succeeded by a dashing cavalry 
officer, General de Sonis. Near at hand, also, there 
was the 18th army corps, to command which Bour- 
baki had been summoned from northern France, his 
place being taken temporarily by young General 
Billot, who was appointed to be his chief of staff. 
The former Army of the East under Crouzat * was 
on the southern side of the Loire, somewhere between 
Gien and Nevers, and it was in a very deplorable 
condition. Boots were wanted for 10,000 men, tents 
for a like number, and knapsacks for 20,000. In 
some battalions there were only sufficient knapsacks 
for a quarter of the men, the others carrying their 
clothes, provisions, and cartridges all higgledy- 
piggledy hi canvas bags. I once heard an eyewitness 
relate that many of Crouzat's soldiers marched with 
their biscuits (four days' supply) strung together Eke 
chaplets, which hung from their necks or shoulders. 

The Germans had heard of the removal of 
Crouzat's force to the Loire country, and by way of 
creating a diversion the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg 
was ordered to march on Beaugency, south-west of 
Orleans. Meantime, Gambetta and Freycinet were 
vainly imploring D'Aurelle to advance. He made 
all sorts of excuses. At one moment he offered to 
consider their plans not to comply with them ; at 
another he wished to wait for decisive news from 
Trochu and Ducrot. Finally, instead of the five 
army corps resolutely advancing in the direction of 
Paris, it was resolved just to open the way with the 
18th (Billot), the 20th (Crouzat), and some detach- 
ments of the 15th (Martin des Pallieres). The result 
was the sharp battle and serious defeat of Beaune- 
la-Rolande (November 28), when the 18th corps 

* See pp. 225, 227, ante. This had now become the 20th Anny Corps. 


behaved extremely well, whilst the 20th, to whose 
deplorable condition I have just referred, retreated 
after a little fighting ; the men of the 15th on their 
side doing little or nothing at all. In this engage- 
ment the French, whose forces ought to have been 
more concentrated, lost 4000 men in killed and 
wounded, and 1800 who were taken prisoners ; the 
German loss not exceeding 1000 men. Four days 
later (December 2) came the very serious repulse 
of Loigny-Poupry, in which the 15th, 16th, and 17th 
army corps were engaged. The French then lost 
from 6000 to 7000 men (2500 of them being taken 
prisoners), and though the German losses exceeded 
4000, the engagement ended by quite demoralising 
D'Aurelle's army. 

Under those conditions came the battle of Orleans 
on December 3 and 4 the Germans now being 
under the chief command of that able soldier, Prince 
Frederick Charles of Prussia, father of the Duchess 
of Connaught. On this occasion D'Aurelle ordered 
the corps engaged at Loigny to retreat on his en- 
trenched camp. The 18th and 20th could not co- 
operate in this movement, however ; and on the 
three others being driven back, D'Aurelle instructed 
Chanzy to retire on Beaugency and Marchenoir, 
but sent no orders to Bourbaki, who was now on the 
scene of action. Finally, the commander-in-chief 
decided to abandon his entrenched camp, the troops 
disbanded and scattered, and Orleans was evacuated, 
the flight being so precipitate that two of the five 
bridges across the Loire were left intact, at the enemy's 
disposal. Moreover, the French Army was now dis- 
located, Bourbaki, with the 18th, and Des Pallieres, 
with the 15th corps, being on the south of the river, 
whilst the other three corps were on the northern 


side. The former retired in the direction of Bourges 
and Nevers, whilst Chanzy, who was now placed in 
chief command of the others, D' Aurelle being removed 
from his post, withdrew gradually towards the forest 
of Marchenoir. In that second battle of Orleans 
the French lost 20,000 men, but 18,000 of them were 
taken prisoners. On their side, the Germans (who 
captured 74 guns) lost fewer than 1800 men. 

For three days (December 8 to 10) Chanzy con- 
tested the German advance at Villorceau, but on 
December 12 Blois had to be evacuated, and the 
army withdrew to the line of the Loir in the neigh- 
bourhood of Vend6me. Meantime, at the very 
moment when the fate of Orleans was being sealed, 
orders reached Jaures at Le Mans to advance to the 
support of the Loire Army. I was lodging at an 
inn in the town, my means being too slender to 
enable me to patronize any of the big hotels on the 
Place des Halles, which, moreover, were crowded 
with officers, functionaries, and so forth. I had 
become acquainted with some of the officers of the 
Breton division under Gougeard, and on hearing 
that they were going to the front, I managed to 
obtain from Colonel Bernard, Gougeard's chief of 
staff, permission to accompany the column with 
one of the ambulance parties. Now and again 
during the advance I rode in one of the vans, but for 
the most part I marched with the men, this, more- 
over, being the preferable course, as the weather 
was extremely cold. Even had I possessed the means 
(and at most I had about 10 in my pocket), I could 
not have bought a horse at Le Mans. I was stoutly 
clad, having a very warm overcoat of grey Irish 
frieze, with good boots, and a pair of gaiters made for 
me by Nicholas, the Saint Malo bootmaker, younger 


brother (so he himself asserted) of Niccolini the 
tenor, sometime husband of Mme. Patti. 

There were from 10,000 to 12,000 men in our 
force, which now ranked as the fourth division of the 
21st army corps. Nearly all the men of both brigades 
were Breton Mobilises, adjoined to whom, however, 
perhaps for the purpose of steadying them, were 
three or four very small detachments of former 
regiments of the line. There was also a small con- 
tingent of the French Foreign Legion, which had been 
brought from Algeria. Starting from Yvre 1'Eveque 
towards noon on December 4, we marched to 
Ardenay, where we spent the night. The weather 
was fine and dry, but intensely cold. On the 5th 
we camped on some hills near the town of Saint 
Calais, moved only a mile or two farther on the 6th 
there being a delay in the receipt of certain orders 
then, at seven o'clock on the 7th, started in the 
direction of Vendome, marching for about twelve 
hours with only the briefest halts. We passed from 
the department of the Sarthe into that of Loir-et- 
Cher, going on until we reached a little place called 
Ville-aux-Clercs, where we spent the night under 
uncomfortable conditions, for it snowed. Early the 
following day we set out again, and, leaving Vendome 
a couple of miles or so away on our right, we passed 
Freteval and camped on the outskirts of the forest 
of Marchenoir. 

The night proved bitterly cold, the temperature 
being some fourteen degrees (centigrade) below 
freezing-point. I slept huddled up in a van, but 
the men generally were under canvas, and there was 
very little straw for them to lie upon, in such wise 
that in the morning some of them actually found their 
garments frost-bound to the ground ! Throughout 



the night of the 10th we heard guns booming in 
the distance. On the llth, the 12th, and the 13th 
December we were continually marching, always 
going in the direction of the guns. We went from 
Ecoman to Moree, to Saint Hilaire-la-Gravelle, and 
thence to the Chateau de Rougemont near Freteval, 
a spot famous as the scene of a victory gained by 
our Richard Coeur-de-Lion over Philip Augustus. 
The more or less distant artillery fire was incessant 
both by day and by night ; but we were only support- 
ing other divisions of the corps, and did not find our- 
selves actually engaged. On the 15th, however, 
there was very sharp fighting both at Freteval and 
Moree, and on the morning of the 16th our Gatlings 
went forward to support the second division of our 
army corps, which was being hard pressed by the 

All at once, however, orders for a general retreat 
arrived, Chanzy having at last decided to fall back 
on Le Mans. There was considerable confusion, 
but at last our men set out, taking a north-westerly 
direction. Fairly good order prevailed on the road, 
and the wiry little Bretons at least proved that their 
marching powers were unimpaired. We went on 
incessantly though slowly during the night, and did 
not make a real halt until about seven o'clock on 
the following morning, when, almost dead-beat, we 
reached a little town called Droue. 

Jaures, I should mention, had received the order 
to retreat at about four o'clock on the afternoon of 
December 16, and had speedily selected three different 
routes for the withdrawal of the 21st army corps. 
Our division, however, was the last to quit its 
positions, it being about eight o'clock at night when 
we set out. Thus our march lasted nine hours. The 


country was a succession of sinuous valleys and stiff 
slopes, and banks often overlooked the roads, which 
were edged with oaks and bushes. There were 
several streams, a few woods, and a good many little 
copses. Farms often lay close together, and now 
and again attempts were made to buy food and drink 
of the peasantry, who, upon hearing our approach, 
came at times with lights to their thresholds. But 
they were a close-fisted breed, and demanded exorbi- 
tant prices. Half a franc was the lowest charge for 
a piece of bread. Considering how bad the men's 
boots were, the marching was very good, but a 
number of men deserted under cover of the night. 
Generally speaking, though there was a slight 
skirmish at Cloyes and an engagement at Droue, as 
I shall presently relate, the retreat was not greatly 
hampered by the enemy. In point of fact, as the 
revelations of more recent years have shown, Moltke 
was more anxious about the forces of Bourbaki than 
about those of Chanzy, and both Prince Frederick 
Charles and the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg had 
instructions to keep a strict watch on the movements 
of Bourbaki's corps. Nevertheless, some of the 
Grand Duke's troops notably a body of cavalry 
attempted to cut off our retreat. When, however, 
late on the 16th, some of our men came in contact 
with a detachment of the enemy near Cloyes, they 
momentarily checked its progress, and, as I have 
indicated, we succeeded in reaching Droue without 

That morning, the 17th, the weather was again 
very cold, a fog following the rain and sleet of the 
previous days. Somewhat later, however, snow 
began to fall. At Droue a little place of about a 
thousand inhabitants, with a ruined castle and an 


ancient church we breakfasted as best we could. 
About nine o'clock came marching orders, and an 
hour later, when a large number of our men were 
already on their way towards Saint Agil, our next 
halting-place, General Gougeard mounted and pre- 
pared to go off with his staff, immediately in advance 
of our rear-guard. At that precise moment, however, 
we were attacked by the Germans, whose presence 
near us we had not suspected. 

It was, however, certainly known to some of the 
inhabitants of Droue, who, terrified by all that they 
had heard of the harshness shown by the Germans 
towards the localities where they encountered any 
resistance, shrank from informing either Gougeard 
or any of his officers that the enemy was at hand. 
The artillery with which our rear was to be protected 
was at this moment on the little square of Droue. It 
consisted of a mountain battery under Sub-Lieutenant 
Gouesse of the artillery, and three Gatlings under Sub- 
Lieutenant De la Forte of the navy, with naval Lieu- 
tenant Rodellec du Porzic in chief command. Whilst 
it was being brought into position, Colonel Bernard, 
Gougeard's chief of staff, galloped off to stop the 
retreat of the other part of our column. The 
enemy's force consisted of detachments of cavalry, 
artillery, and Landwehr infantry. Before our little 
guns could be trained on them, the Landwehr men 
had already seized several outlying houses, barns, 
and sheds, whence they strove to pick off our gunners. 
For a moment our Mobilises hesitated to go forward, 
but Gougeard dashed amongst them, appealed to their 
courage, and then led them against the enemy. 

Not more than three hundred yards separated 
the bulk of the contending forces, indeed there were 
some Germans in the houses less than two hundred 


yards away. Our men at last forced these fellows 
to decamp, killing and wounding several of them ; 
whilst, thanks to Colonel Bernard's prompt inter- 
vention, a battalion of the 19th line regiment and 
two companies of the Foreign Legion, whose retreat 
was hastily stopped, threatened the enemy's right 
flank. A squadron of the Second Lancers under a 
young lieutenant also came to our help, dismounting 
and supporting Gougeard's Mobilises with the car- 
bines they carried. Realizing that we were in force, 
the enemy ended by retreating, but not until there 
had been a good deal of fighting in and around the 
outlying houses of Droue. 

Such, briefly, was the first action I ever witnessed. 
Like others, I was under fire for some time, being near 
the guns and helping to carry away the gunners 
whom the Germans shot from the windows of the 
houses in which they had installed themselves. We 
lost four or five artillerymen in that manner, including 
the chief officer, M. de Rodellec du Porzic, whom 
a bullet struck in the chest. He passed away in a 
little cafe whither we carried him. He was, I 
believe, the last of his family, two of his brothers 
having previously been killed in action. 

We lost four or five other officers in this same en- 
gagement, as well as a Breton chaplain of the Mobilises. 
Our total losses were certainly larger than Gougeard 
subsequently stated in his official report, amounting 
in killed and wounded, I think, to from 120 to 150 
men. Though the officers as a rule behaved extremely 
well some of them, indeed, splendidly there were 
a few lamentable instances of cowardice. By Gou- 
geard's orders, four were placed under arrest and 
court-martialled at the end of the retreat. Of these, 
two were acquitted, whilst a third was shot, and a 


fourth sentenced to two years' imprisonment in a 

The enemy's pursuit having been checked, we 
eventually quitted Droue, but when we had gone 
another three miles or so and reached a village called 
Fontenelle, the Germans came on again. It was 
then about two o'clock in the afternoon, and for a 
couple of hours or so, whilst we continued our retreat, 
the enemy kept up a running cannonade, repeatedly 
endeavouring to harass our rear. We constantly 
replied to their fire, however, and steadily kept them 
off, losing only a few men before the dusk fell, when 
the pursuit ceased. We afterwards plodded on 
slowly the roads being in a terrible condition 
until at about half-past six o'clock we reached the 
village of Saint Agil, where the staff installed itself 
at Count de Saint-Maixent's stately renaissance 

The weather was better on December 18, for, 
though it was extremely cold, the snow ceased falling. 
But we still had a formidable task before us. The 
roads, as I have said, were wretched, and at Saint 
Agil we had to contend with some terrible quag- 
mires, across which we found it at first impossible 
to get our guns, ammunition-vans, and baggage 
train. It became necessary to lop and fell trees, 
and form with them a kind of bed over which our 
impedimenta might travel. Hour after hour went 
by amidst incessant labour. An ammunition waggon 

* From the formation of the " Army of Brittany " until the armistice 
the total number of executions was eleven. They included one officer 
(mentioned above) for cowardice in presence of the enemy ; five men of 
the Foreign Legion for murdering peasants ; one Franc -tireur for armed 
robbery, and four men (Line and Mobile Guards) for desertion in presence 
of the enemy. The number would have been larger had it been possible 
to identify and punish those who were most guilty in the stampede of 
La Tuilerie during the battle of Le Mans. 


containing only half its proper load required the 
efforts of a dozen horses to pull it over that morass, 
whilst, as for the guns, each of the 12's required even 
more horses. It was three o'clock on the afternoon 
of the 18th when the last gun was got across. Three 
gun-carriages were broken during those efforts, but 
our men managed to save the pieces. Late in the 
operations the Germans again put in an appearance, 
but were held in respect by our Gatlings and moun- 
tain-guns. Half an hour, however, after our de- 
parture from Saint Agil, they entered the village. 

In a very wretched condition, half-famished and 
footsore, we went on, through the sudden thaw which 
had set in, towards Vibraye, whose forest, full in 
those days of wild boars and deer, stretched away 
on our left. We were now in the department of the 
Sarthe, and, cutting across country in the direction 
of the Huisne, we at last reached the ancient little 
bourg of Connerre, on the high-road running (left 
of the river) towards Le Mans. There I took leave 
of our column, and, after buying a shirt and some 
socks, hastened to the railway station a mile and 
a half distant hoping, from what was told me, that 
there might be some means of getting to Le Mans 
by train, instead of accompanying our men along 
the highway. At Connerre station I found a very 
good inn, where I at once partook of the best meal 
that I had eaten since leaving Le Mans, sixteen days 
previously. I then washed, put on my new shirt 
and socks, and went to interview the station-master. 
After a great deal of trouble, as I had a permit signed 
by Colonel Bernard, and wore an ambulance armlet, 
I was allowed to travel to Le Mans in a railway van. 
There was no regular service of trains, the only ones 
now running so far north being used for military 


purposes. I got to Le Mans a few hours before our 
column reached Yvre FEveque on the night of 
December 20, and at once sought a train which would 
convey me to Rennes, if not as far as Saint Malo. 
Then came another long, slow, dreary journey in a 
villainous wooden-seated third-class carriage. It was 
between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning when 
we reached Rennes. I still had about five-and- 
twenty francs in my pocket, and knowing that it 
would not cost me more than a quarter of that 
amount to get to Saint Malo, I resolved to indulge 
in a good dejeuner at the Hotel de France. 

There was nobody excepting a few waiters in the 
long dining-room, but the tables were already laid 
there. When, however, I seated myself at one of 
them, the head-waiter came up declaring that I could 
not be accommodated, as the tables were reserved 
for ces messieurs. I was inquiring who ces messieurs 
might be, when some of them entered the room in 
a very swaggering manner. All were arrayed in 
stylish and brand-new uniforms, with beautiful 
boots, and looked in the pink of condition. They 
belonged, I found, to a free corps called the 
" Eclaireurs d'llle-et-Vilaine," and their principal 
occupations were to mess together copiously and then 
stroll about the town, ogling all the good-looking 
girls they met. The corps never went to the front. 
Three or four weeks afterwards, when I again passed 
through Rennes this second time with my father 
Messieurs les Eclaireurs were still displaying their 
immaculate uniforms and highly polished boots 
amidst all the misery exhibited by the remnants of 
one of Chanzy's corps tfarmee. 

Though I was little more than a boy, my blood 
fairly boiled when I was requested to give up my 


seat at table for these arrogant young fops. I went 
to complain at the hotel bureau, but, being confronted 
there by the landlady instead of by the landlord, 
I did not express my feelings so strongly as I might 
have done. " Madame " sweetly informed me that 
the first dejeuner was entirely reserved for Messieurs 
les Eclaireurs, but that, if I would wait till the 
second dejeuner at noon, I should find ample accom- 
modation. However, I was not inclined to do any such 
thing. I thought of all the poor, famished, shivering 
men whom I had left less than twenty-four hours 
previously, and some of whom I had more than 
once helped to buy bread and cheese and wine during 
our long and painful marches. They, at all events, 
had done their duty as best they could, and I felt 
highly indignant with the swaggering young bloods 
of Rennes, who were content to remain in their 
native town displaying their uniforms and enjoying 
themselves. Fortunately, such instances were very 

Returning to the railway station, I obtained 
something to eat at the refreshment-room, where 
I presently heard somebody trying to make a waiter 
understand an order given in broken French. Recog- 
nizing a fellow-countryman, I intervened and pro- 
cured what he desired. I found that he was going 
to Saint Malo like myself, so we made the journey 
together. He told me that, although he spoke very 
little French, he had come to France on behalf of 
an English boot-making firm in order to get a con- 
tract from some of the military authorities. Many 
such people were to be found in Brittany, at Le Mans, 
at Tours, and elsewhere, during the latter period of 
the war. An uncle of mine, Frederick Vizetelly, 
came over, I remember, and interviewed Freycinet 


and others on behalf of an English small-arm firm. 
I forget whether he secured a contract or not ; but 
it is a lamentable and uncontrovertible fact that 
many of the weapons and many of the boots sold 
by English makers to the National Defence were 
extremely defective. Some of the American weapons 
were even worse than ours. As for the boots, they 
often had mere " composition soles," which were 
soon worn out. I saw, notably after the battle of 
Le Mans, hundreds I believe I might say, without 
exaggeration, thousands of men whose boots were 
mere remnants. Some hobbled through the snow 
with only rags wrapped round their bleeding feet. 
On the other hand, a few of our firms undoubtedly 
supplied satisfactory boots, and it may have been 
so in the case of the traveller whom I met at Rennes. 
A few days after my return to Saint Malo, my 
cousin, Montague Vizetelly, arrived there with a 
commission from the Daily News to join Chanzy's 
forces at Le Mans. Mr. Robinson, I was afterwards 
told, had put some questions about me to my 
brother Adrian, and, on hearing how young I was, 
had thought that I might not be equal to the occasion 
if a decisive battle between Prince Frederick Charles 
and Ghanzy should be fought. My cousin then 
four-and-twenty years of age was accordingly sent 
over. From that time nearly all my war letters 
were forwarded to the Pall Mall Gazette, and, as it 
happened, one of them was the first account of the 
great battle of Le Mans, from the French side, to 
appear in an English paper. 



The War in various Regions of Prance General Faidherbe Battle of 
Pont-Noyelles Unreliability of French Official News Engagement 
of Nuits Le Bourget Sortie Battles of Bapaume and Villersexel 
Chanzy's Plan of Operations The Affair of Saint Calais Wretched 
State of some of Chanzy's Soldiers Le Mans and its Historical 
Associations The Surrounding Country Chanzy's Career Positions 
of his Forces Advance of Prince Frederick Charles The first Fight- 
ing before Le Mans and its Result. 

WHILST Chanzy was retreating on Le Mans, and 
there reorganizing and reinforcing his army, a 
variety of operations went on in other parts of France. 
After the German occupation of Amiens, Moltke 
instructed Manteuffel to advance on Rouen, which 
he did, afterwards despatching a column to Dieppe ; 
the result being that on December 9 the Germans, 
for the first time, reached the sea-coast. Since 
December 3 Faidherbe had taken the chief command 
of the Army of the North at Lille. He was distinctly 
a clever general, and was at that time only fifty-two 
years of age. But he had spent eleven years in 
Senegal, organizing and developing that colony, 
and his health had been impaired by the tropical 
West African climate. Nevertheless, he evinced no 
little energy, and never despaired, however slender 
might be the forces under him, and however cramped 
his position. As soon as he had reorganized the 



army entrusted to his charge, he moved towards 
Amiens, and on December 23 and 24 a battle was 
fought at Pont-Noyelles, in the vicinity of that town. 
In some respects Faidherbe gained the advantage, 
but his success was a barren one, and his losses were 
far greater than those of the Germans, amounting, 
indeed, to 2300 men (apart from many deserters), 
whereas the enemy's were not more than a thousand. 
Gambetta, however, telegraphed to the Prefects that 
a great victory had been gained ; and I remember 
that when a notice to that effect was posted at the 
town-hall of Saint Servan, everybody there became 

Most of our war-news, or, at least, the earliest 
intelligence of any important engagement, came to 
us in the fashion I have indicated, townsfolk con- 
stantly assembling outside the prefectures, sub- 
prefectures, and municipal buildings in order to 
read the day's news. At times it was entirely false, 
at others some slight success of the French arms was 
magnified into a victory, and a petty engagement 
became a pitched battle. The news in the French 
newspapers was usually very belated and often quite 
unreliable, though now and again telegrams from 
London were published, giving information which 
was as near to the truth as the many English war 
correspondents on both sides could ascertain. After 
the war, both Frenchmen and Germans admitted 
to me that of all the newspaper intelligence of the 
period there was nothing approaching in accuracy 
that which was imparted by our British corre- 
spondents. I am convinced, from all I heard in 
Paris, in Berlin, in Vienna, and elsewhere, during 
the two or three years which followed the war, that 
the reputation of the British Press was greatly 


enhanced on the Continent by the news it gave 
during the Franco-German campaign. Many a time 
in the course of the next few years did I hear 
foreigners inquire : " What do the London papers 
say ? " or remark : " If an English paper says it, 
it must be true." I do not wish to blow the trumpet 
too loudly on behalf of the profession to which 
I belonged for many years, but what I have here 
mentioned is strictly true ; and now that my days 
of travel are over, I should be glad to know that 
foreigners still hold the British Press in the same 
high esteem. 

But, to return to my narrative, whilst the events 
I have mentioned were taking place in Normandy 
and Northern France, Gambetta was vainly trying 
to persuade Bourbaki to advance in the direction 
of Montargis. He also wished to reinforce Garibaldi ; 
but the enmity of many French officers towards 
the Italian Liberator was so great that they would 
not serve with him. General von Werder was at this 
time covering the siege of Belfort and watching 
Langres. On December 18 there was an engagement 
at Nuits between some of his forces and those led 
by the French commander Cremer, who claimed the 
victory, but afterwards retreated towards Beaune. 
The French, however, were now able to re-occupy 
Dijon. On the 21st another sortie was made from 
Paris, this time on the north, in the direction of 
Le Bourget and Ville-Evrard. Ducrot was again 
in command, and 200,000 men were got together, 
but only 5000 were brought into action. There 
were a great many desertions, and no fewer than six 
officers of one brigade alone were court-martialled 
and punished for lack of courage. The affair 
appears to have been arranged in order to quiet the 


more reckless elements in Paris, who were for ever 
demanding " a great, a torrential sortie." In this 
instance, however, there was merely " much ado 
about nothing." The truth is, that ever since the 
Champigny affair both Trochu and Ducrot had lost 
all confidence. 

On January 2 and 3, the French under Faidherbe, 
and the Germans under Goeben, fought a battle at 
Bapaume, south of Arras. The former were by far 
the more numerous force, being, indeed, as three to 
one, and Faidherbe is credited with having gained 
a victory. But, again, it was only a barren one, for 
although the Germans fell back, the French found it 
quite as necessary to do the same. About a week 
previously the 15th French Army Corps, with which 
Bourbaki had done little or nothing on the Loire, 
had been removed from Vierzon and Bourges to 
join the Army of the East, of which Bourbaki now 
assumed the chief command. The transport of the 
troops proved a very difficult affair, and there was 
great disorder and, again, many desertions. Never- 
theless, on January 9, Bourbaki fought Werder at 
Villersexel, in the vicinity of Vesoul, Montbe'liard, 
and Belfort. In this engagement there appear to 
have been serious mistakes on both sides, and though 
Bourbaki claimed a success, his losses were 
numerically double those of the Germans. 

Meantime Chanzy, at Le Mans, was urging all 
sorts of plans on Gambetta and Freycinet. In the 
first place he desired to recruit and strengthen his 
forces, so sorely tried by their difficult retreat ; 
and in order that he might have time to do so, he 
wished Bourbaki to execute a powerful diversion by 
marching in the direction of Troyes. But Gambetta 
and Freycinet had decided otherwise. Bourbaki's 


advance was to be towards the Vosges, after which 
he was to turn westward and march on Paris with 
150,000 men. Chanzy was informed of this decision 
on and about January 5 (1871), and on the 6th he 
made a last attempt to modify the Government plan 
in order that Bourbaki's march might be directed on 
a point nearer to Paris. In reply, he was informed 
that it was too late to modify the arrangements. 

With regard to his own operations, Chanzy's idea 
was to march towards the capital when his forces 
were reorganized. His bases were to be the river 
Sarthe, the town of Le Mans, and the railway-line 
running northward to Alen9on. Thence he proposed 
to advance to some point on the river Eure between 
Dreux and Chartres, going afterwards towards Paris 
by such a route as circumstances might allow. He 
had 130,000 men near Le Mans, and proposed to 
take 120,000 with 350 field-pieces or machine-guns, 
and calculated that he might require a week, or to 
be precise eight days, to carry this force from Le Mans 
to Chartres, allowing for fighting on the way. Further, 
to assist his movements he wished Faidherbe, as 
well as Bourbaki, to assume the offensive vigorously 
as soon as he was ready. The carrying out of the 
scheme was frustrated, however, in part by the 
movements which the Government ordered Bourbaki 
to execute, and in part by what may be called the 
sudden awakening of Prince Frederick Charles, who, 
feeling more apprehensive respecting Bourbaki's 
movements, had hitherto, in a measure, neglected 
Chanzy's doings. 

On December 22 Captain, afterwards General, 
de Boisdeffre * reached Le Mans, after quitting Paris 

* He was Chief of the French Staff during the famous Dreyfus Case, 
in which his name was frequently mentioned. 


in one of the balloons, and gave Chanzy certain 
messages with which Trochu had entrusted him. 
He brought nothing in writing, as what he had to 
communicate was considered too serious to be com- 
mitted to paper. Yet both my father and myself 
could have imparted virtually the same information, 
which was but a secret de Polichinelle. It concerned 
the date when the fall of Paris would become inevit- 
able. We my father and myself had said 
repeatedly at Versailles and elsewhere that the 
capital's supply of food would last until the latter 
days of January, and that the city (unless in the 
meanwhile it were relieved) must then surrender. 
Authentic information to that effect was available 
in Paris before we quitted it in November. Of course 
Trochu's message to Chanzy was official, and carried 
greater weight than the assertions of journalists. It 
was to the effect that it would be necessary to 
negotiate a capitulation on January 20, in order to 
give time for the revictualling of the city's two 
million inhabitants. As it happened, the resistance 
was prolonged for another week or so. However, 
Boisdeffre's information was sufficiently explicit to 
show Chanzy that no time must be lost if Paris was 
to be saved. 

Some German cavalry probably the same men 
who had pursued Gougeard's column showed them- 
selves at Saint Calais, which is only some thirty 
miles north-east of Le Mans, as early as December 18, 
but soon retired, and no further advance of the 
enemy in that direction took place for several days. 
Chanzy formed two flying columns, one a division 
under General Jouffroy, and one a body of 4000 men 
under General Rousseau, for the purpose of worrying 
the enemy and keeping him at a distance. These 


troops, particularly those. of Jouffroy, who moved 
towards Montoire and Vendome, had several small 
but none the less important engagements with the 
Germans. Prince Frederick Charles, indeed, realised 
that Jouffroy 's operations were designed to ensure 
the security of Chanzy's main army whilst it was 
being recruited and reorganized, and thereupon 
decided to march on Le Mans and attack Chanzy 
before the latter had attained his object. 

On Christmas Day a force of German cavalry, 
artillery, and infantry descended upon Saint Calais 
(then a town of about 3500 inhabitants), levied a 
sum of 17,000 francs, pillaged several of the houses, 
and ill-treated a number of the townsfolk. When 
some of the latter ventured to protest, pointing out, 
among other things, that after various little engage- 
ments in the vicinity several wounded Germans 
had been brought into the town and well cared for 
there, the enemy's commanding officer called them 
a pack of cowards, and flung them 2000 francs of 
his recent levy, to pay them, he said, for their 
so-called services. The affair was reported to 
Chanzy, who thereupon wrote an indignant letter 
to the German general commanding at Vendome. 
It was carried thither by a certain M. de Vezian, a 
civil engineer attached to Chanzy's staff, who brought 
back the following reply : 

" Reu une lettre du General Chanzy. Un ge'ne'ral 
prussien ne sachant pas ecrire une lettre de tel genre, 
ne saurait y f aire une reponse par ecrit. 

" Au quartier-ge'ne'ral a Vendome, 28 Ddcembre 

Signature (illegible). 

It was, perhaps, a pity that Chanzy ever wrote 



his letter of protest. French generals were too much 
given to expressing their feelings in writing during 
that war. Deeds and not words were wanted. 

Meantime, the army was being slowly recruited. 
On December 13, Gambetta had issued none too 
soon a decree authorising the billeting of the men 
" during the winter campaign." Nevertheless, when 
Gougeard's troops returned to Yvre FEveque, they 
were ordered to sleep under canvas, like many other 
divisions of the army. It was a great mistake. In 
that severe weather the winter was one of the 
coldest of the nineteenth century the men's suffer- 
ings were very great. They were in need, too, of 
many things, new shoes, linen, great-coats, and other 
garments, and there was much delay in providing 
for their more urgent requirements. Thus the 
number of desertions was not to be wondered at. 
The commander-in-chief did his best to ensure 
discipline among his dispirited troops. Several 
men were shot by way of example. When, shortly 
before the battle of Le Mans, the 21st Army Corps 
crossed the Huisne to take up positions near Mont- 
fort, several officers were severely punished for riding 
in ambulance and baggage waggons instead of 
marching with their men. 

Le Mans is not easily defended from an enemy 
advancing upon it from eastern, north-eastern, and 
south-eastern directions. A close defence is im- 
possible by reason of the character of the country. 
At the time of which I write, the town was one of 
about 37,000 inhabitants. Very ancient, already 
in existence at the time of the Romans, it became 
the capital of Maine. William the Conqueror seized 
it, but it was snatched from his son, Robert, 
by Helie de La Fleche. Later, Geoffrey, the First 


of the Plantagenets, was buried there, it being, 
moreover, the birthplace of his son, our Henry II. 
In after years it was taken from Richard Cceur-de- 
Lion by Philip-Augustus, who assigned it, however, 
to Richard's widow, Queen Berengaria. A house 
in the town is wrongly said to have been her resi- 
dence, but she undoubtedly founded the Abbaye de 
1'Epau, near Yvre 1'Eveque, and was buried there. 
It was at Le Mans that King John of France, who 
surrendered to the Black Prince at Poitiers, was 
born ; and in the neighbouring forest, John's grand- 
son, Charles VI, first gave signs of insanity. Five 
times during the Anglo-French wars of the days of 
Henry V and Henry VI, Le Mans was besieged by one 
or another of the contending parties. The town 
again suffered during the Huguenot wars, and yet 
again during the Revolution, when the Vendeens 
seized it, but were expelled by Marceau, some 5000 of 
them being bayoneted on the Place de FEperon. 

Rich in associations with the history of England 
as well as that of France, Le Mans, in spite of its 
accessibility for railway lines coming from five 
different directions meet there is seldom visited 
by our tourists. Its glory is its cathedral, strangely 
neglected by the numerous English writers on the 
cathedrals of France. Here are exemplified the 
architectural styles of five successive centuries, and, 
as Merimee once wrote, in passing from one part of 
the edifice to another, it is as if you passed from one 
to another religion. But the supreme features of 
the cathedral are its stained-glass windows, which 
include some of the very oldest in the world. Many 
years ago, when they were in a more perfect con- 
dition than they are now, Hucher gave reproductions 
of them in a rare folio volume. Here, too, is the 


tomb of Queen Berengaria of England, removed from 
the Abbaye de 1'Epau ; here, also, was formerly 
that of her husband's grandfather, Geoffrey Plan- 
tagenet. But this was destroyed by the Huguenots, 
and you must go to the museum to see all that 
remains of it that is, the priceless enamel plaque 
by which it was formerly surmounted, and which 
represents Geoffrey grasping his sword and his azure 
shield, the latter bearing a cross and lions rampant 
not the leoparded lions passant of his English 
descendants. Much ink has flowed respecting that 
shield during squabbles among heraldists. 

Judging by recent plans of Le Mans, a good 
many changes have taken place there since the time 
of the Franco-German War. Various new, broad, 
straight streets have been substituted for some of 
the quaint old winding ones. The Pont Napoleon 
now appears to have become the Pont Gambetta, 
and the Place des Minimes is called the Place de la 
Republique. I notice also a Rue Thiers which 
did not exist in the days when Le Mans was familiar 
to me as an old-world town. In this narrative I must, 
of course, take it as it was then, not as it is now. 

The Sarthe, flowing from north to south, where 
it is joined by its tributary the Huisne, coming from 
the north-east, still divides the town into two 
unequal sections ; the larger one, on the most elevated 
part of which stands the cathedral, being that on 
the river's left bank. At the time I write of, the 
Sarthe was spanned by three stone bridges, a sus- 
pension bridge, and a granite and marble railway 
viaduct, some 550 feet hi length. The German 
advance was bound to come from the east and the 
south. On the east is a series of heights, below 
which flow the waters of the Huisne. The views 


range over an expanse of varying elevation, steep 
hills and deep valleys being frequent. There are 
numerous watercourses. The Huisne, which helps 
to feed the Sarthe, is itself fed by a number of little 
tributaries. The lowest ground, at the time I have 
in mind, was generally meadow-land, intersected 
here and there with rows of poplars, whilst the 
higher ground was employed for the cultivation of 
crops. Every little field was circumscribed by 
ditches, banks, and thick hedges. 

The loftiest point of the eastern heights is at 
Yvre FEveque, which was once crowned by a renais- 
sance chateau, where Henry of Navarre resided 
when he reduced Le Mans to submission. North- 
ward from Yvre, in the direction of Savigne, stretches 
the high plateau of Sarge, which on the west slopes 
down towards the river Sarthe, and forms one of 
the most important of the natural defences of Le 
Mans. Eastward, from Yvre, you overlook first the 
Huisne, spanned at various neighbouring points by 
four bridges, but having much of the meadow-land 
in its valley cut up by little water-channels for 
purposes of irrigation these making the ground 
additionally difficult for an attacking force to 
traverse. Secondly, you see a long plateau called 
Auvours, the possession of which must necessarily 
facilitate an enemy's operations. Following the 
course of the railway-line coming from the direction 
of Paris, you notice several pine woods, planted on 
former heaths. Still looking eastward, is the village 
of Champagne, where the slopes are studded with 
vines, whilst the plain is arable land, dotted over with 
clumps of chestnut trees. North-east of Champagne 
is Montfort, where Chanzy at first stationed the 
bulk of the 21st Army Corps under Jaures, this 


(leaving his flying columns on one side) being the 
most eastern position of his forces at the time when 
the German advance began. The right of the 21st 
Corps here rested on the Huisne. Its extreme left 
extended northward towards the Sarthe, but a 
division of the 17th Corps under General de Colomb 
guarded the Alen9on (N.) and Conlie (N.W.) railway 

Confronted by the Huisne, the heights of Yvre 
and the plateaux of Sarge and Auvours, having, for 
the most part, to keep to the high-roads for, bad as 
their state might be at that season, it was nothing 
compared with the condition of the many narrow 
and often deep lanes, whose high banks and hedges, 
moreover, offered opportunities for ambush the 
Germans, it was obvious, would have a difficult task 
before them on the eastern side of Le Mans, even 
should they drive the 21st Corps from Montfort. 
The approach to the town is easier, however, on the 
south-east and the south. Here are numerous pine 
woods, but on going towards Le Mans, after passing 
Parigne-l'Eveque (S.E.) and Mulsanne (S.), the 
ground is generally much less hilly than on the east. 
There are, however, certain positions favourable for 
defence. There is high ground at Change, midway 
between the road from Saint Calais to Le Mans, via 
Yvre, and the road from Grand Luce to Le Mans 
via Parigne. Over a distance of eight miles, more- 
over, there extends or extended at the time I refer 
to a track called the Chemin des Bceufs, suitable 
for defensive purposes, with high ground at at least 
two points Le Tertre Rouge, south-east of Le Mans, 
and La Tuilerie, south of the town. The line of the 
Chemin des Bceufs and the position of Change 
was at first entrusted by Chanzy to the 16th 


Corps, whose commander, Jaureguiberry, had his 
headquarters at the southern suburb of Pontlieue, 
an important point affording direct access to Le 
Mans by a stone bridge over the Huisne. 

When I returned to Le Mans from Saint Servan 
in the very first days of January, Chanzy's forces 
numbered altogether about 130,000 men, but a very 
large proportion of them were dispersed in different 
directions, forming detached columns under Generals 
Barry, Curten, Rousseau, and Jouffroy. The troops 
of the two first-named officers had been taken from the 
16th Corps (Jaureguiberry), those of Rousseau were 
really the first division of the 21st Corps (Jaures), 
and those of Jouffroy belonged to the 17th, com- 
manded by General de Colomb.* It is a curious 
circumstance that, among the German troops which 
opposed the latter's forces at this stage of the war, 
there was a division commanded by a General von 
Colomb. Both these officers had sprung from the 
same ancient French family, but Von Colomb 
came from a Huguenot branch which had quitted 
France when the Edict of Nantes was revoked. 

Chanzy's other chief coadjutors at Le Mans 
were Jaures, of whom I have already spoken, f and 
Rear- Admiral Jaureguiberry, who, after the general- 
in-chief, was perhaps the most able of all the 
commanders. Of Basque origin and born in 1815, 
he had distinguished himself as a naval officer in the 
Crimean, Chinese, and Cochin China expeditions ; 
and on taking service in the army under the 
National Defence, he had contributed powerfully 
to D'Aurelle's victory at Coulmiers. He became 

* The 16th and 17th comprised three divisions each, the 21st including 
four. The German Corps were generally of only two divisions, with, 
however, far stronger forces of cavalry than Chanzy disposed of. 

t See pp. 231, 236, ante. 


known among the Loire forces as the man who was 
always the first to attack and the last to retreat.* 

Having referred to Chanzy's principal subordi- 
nates, it is fitting that I should give a brief account 
of Chanzy himself. The son of an officer of the 
First Empire, he was born at Nouart in the Argonne, 
and from his personal knowledge of that region it 
is certain that his services would have proved 
valuable during the disastrous march on Sedan, when, 
as Zola has rightly pointed out in "La Debacle," 
so many French commanding officers were altogether 
ignorant of the nature and possibilities of the country 
through which they advanced. Chanzy, however, 
like many others who figured among the Loire forces, 
had begun life in the navy, enlisting in that service 
when sixteen years of age. But, after very brief 
experience afloat, he went to the military school 
of St. Cyr, passed out of it as a sub-lieutenant in 
1843, when he was in his twenty-first year, was 
appointed to a regiment of Zouaves, and sent to 
Algeria. He served, however, in the Italian cam- 
paign of 1859, became lieutenant-colonel of a line 
regiment, and as such took part in the Syrian 
expedition of 1860-61. Later, he was with the 
French forces garrisoning Rome, acquired a colonelcy 
in 1864, returned to Algeria, and in 1868 was pro- 
moted to the rank of general of brigade. 

At the outset of the Franco-German War, he 
applied for active service, but the imperial autho- 
rities would not employ him in France. In spite of 

* He looked somewhat older than his years warranted, being very 
bald, with just a fringe of white hair round the cranium. His upper lip 
and chin were shaven, but he wore white whiskers of the " mutton-chop " 
variety. Slim and fairly tall, he was possessed of no little nervous strength 
and energy. In later years he became Minister of Marine in the Wadding- 
ton, the second Freycinet, and the Duolerc cabinets. 


the associations of his family with the first Empire, 
he was, like Trochu, accounted an Orleanist, and 
it was not desired that any Orleanist general 
should have an opportunity to distinguish himself in 
the contemplated " march on Berlin." Marshal 
MacMahon, however, as Governor of Algeria, had 
formed a high opinion of Chanzy's merits, and after 
Sedan, anxious as he was for his country in her 
predicament, the Marshal, then a prisoner of war, 
found a means of advising the National Defence to 
make use of Chanzy's services. That patriotic 
intervention, which did infinite credit to MacMahon, 
procured for Chanzy an appointment at the head 
of the 16th Army Corps, and later the chief command 
of the Second Loire Army. 

When I first saw him in the latter days of 1870, 
he was in his fifty-eighth year, well built, and taller 
than the majority of French officers. His fair hair 
and fair moustache had become grey ; but his blue 
eyes had remained bright, and there was an expres- 
sion of quiet resolution on his handsome, well-cut 
face, with its aquiline nose and energetic jaw. Such, 
physically, was the general whom Moltke subse- 
quently declared to have been the best that France 
opposed to the Germans throughout the war. I 
never once saw Chanzy excited, in which respect he 
greatly contrasted with many of the subordinate 
commanders. Jaureguiberry was sometimes carried 
away by his Basque, and Gougeard by his Celtic, 
blood. So it was with Jaures, who, though born in 
Paris, had, like his nephew the Socialist leader, the 
blood of the Midi in his veins. Chanzy, however, 
belonged to a calmer, a more quietly resolute 
northern race. 

He was inclined to religion, and I remember that, 


in addition to the chaplains accompanying the 
Breton battalions, there was a chief chaplain attached 
to the general staff. This was Abbe de Beuvron, a 
member of an old noble family of central France. 
The Chief of the Staff was Major-General Vuillemot ; 
the Provost-General was Colonel Mora, and the 
principal aides-de-camp were Captains Marois and 
de Boisdeffre. Specially attached to the head- 
quarters service there was a rather numerous picked 
force under General Bourdillon. It comprised a 
regiment of horse gendarmes and one of foot gen- 
darmes, four squadrons of Chasseurs d'Afrique, some 
artillery provided chiefly with mountain-guns, an 
aeronautical company under the brothers Tissandier, 
and three squadrons of Algerian light cavalry, of the 
Spahi type, who, with their flowing burnouses and 
their swift little Arab horses, often figured con- 
spicuously in Chanzy's escort. A year or two after 
the war, I engaged one of these very men he was 
called Saad as a servant, and he proved most 
devoted and attentive ; but he had contracted the 
germs of pulmonary disease during that cruel winter 
of 1870-71, and at the end of a few months I had to 
take him to the Val-de-Grace military hospital in 
Paris, where he died of galloping consumption. 

The German forces opposed to Chanzy consisted 
of a part of the so-called " Armee-Abtheilung " 
under the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg,* and the 
" Second Army " under Prince Frederick Charles 
of Prussia, the latter including the 3rd, 9th, 10th, 
and 13th Army Corps, and disposing of numerous 
cavalry and nearly four hundred guns. The Prince 
ascertained that the French forces were, in part, 
extremely dispersed, and therefore resolved to act 

* See p. 208, ante. 


before they could be concentrated. At the outset 
the Germans came down on Nogent-le-Rotrou, where 
Rousseau's column was stationed, inflicted a reverse 
on him, and compelled him (January 7) to fall back 
on Connerre a distance of thirty miles from 
Nogent, and of less than sixteen from Le Mans. On 
the same day, sections of Jouffroy's forces were 
defeated at Epuisay and Poirier (mid-way between 
Le Mans and Vendome), and also forced to retreat. 
The French detachments (under Jouffroy, Curten, 
and Barry) which were stationed along the line from 
Saint Calais to Montoire, and thence to Saint Amand 
and Chateau-Renault a stretch of some five-and- 
twenty miles were not strong enough to oppose 
the German advance, and some of them ran the risk 
of having their retreat cut off. Chanzy realized the 
danger, and on the morning of January 8 he de- 
spatched Jaureguiberry to take command of all the 
troops distributed from the south to the south-east, 
between Chateau-du-Loir and Chateau-Renault, and 
bring them to Le Mans. 

But the 10th German Corps was advancing in these 
directions, and, after an engagement with Barry's 
troops at Ruille, secured positions round La Chartre. 
This seriously threatened the retreat of the column 
under General Curten, which was still at Saint 
Amand, and, moreover, it was a further menace to 
Barry himself, as his division was distributed over 
a front of fourteen miles near Chateau-du-Loir. 
Jaureguiberry, however, entreated Barry to continue 
guarding the river Loir, in the hope of Curten being 
able to retreat to that point. 

Whilst, however, these defensive attempts were 
being made to the south of Le Mans, the Germans 
were pressing forward on the north-east and the 


east, Prince Frederick Charles being eager to come 
in touch with Chanzy's main forces, regardless of 
what might happen on the Loir and at Saint Amand. 
On the north-east the enemy advanced to La Ferte 
Bernard ; on the east, at Vance, a brigade of German 
cavalry drove back the French cuirassiers and 
Algerians, and Prince Frederick Charles then pro- 
ceeded as far as Saint Calais, where he prepared for 
decisive action. One army corps was sent down the 
line of the Huisne, another had orders to advance 
on Ardenay, a third on Bouloire, whilst the fourth, 
leaving Barry on its left flank, was to march on 
Parigne-l'Eveque. Thus, excepting a brigade of 
infantry and one of cavalry, detached to observe 
the isolated Curten, and hold him in check, virtually 
the whole of the German Second Army marched 
against Chanzy's main forces. 

Chanzy, on his side, now ordered Jaures (21st 
Corps) to occupy the positions of Yvre, Auvours, 
and Sarge strongly ; whilst Colomb (17th Corps) 
was instructed to send General Paris's division 
forward to Ardenay, thus reducing Colomb's actual 
command to one division, as Jouffroy's column had 
previously been detached from it. On both sides 
every operation was attended by great difficulties 
on account of the very severe weather. A 
momentary thaw had been followed by another 
sudden frost, in such wise that the roads had a 
coating of ice, which rendered them extremely 
slippery. On January 9 violent snowstorms set 
in, almost blinding one, and yet the rival hosts did 
not for an hour desist from their respective efforts. 
At times, when I recall those days, I wonder whether 
many who have read of Napoleon's retreat from 
Moscow have fully realized what that meant. 


Amidst the snowstorms of the 9th a force of 
German cavalry attacked our extreme left and com- 
pelled it to retreat towards the Alen9on line. 
Rousseau's column being in a dangerous position 
at Connerre, Colin's division of the 21st Corps was 
sent forward to support it in the direction of Mont- 
fort, Gougeard with his Bretons also advancing to 
support Colin. But the 13th German Corps attacked 
Rousseau, who after two engagements was driven 
from Connerre and forced to retreat on Montfort 
and Pont-de-Gennes across the Huisne, after losing 
in killed, wounded, and missing, some 800 of his 
men, whereas the enemy lost barely a hundred. At 
the same time Gougeard was attacked, and compelled 
to fall back on Saint-Mars-la-Bruyere. 

But the principal event of the day was the defeat 
of General Paris's force at Ardenay by a part of the 
3rd German Corps. The latter had a superiority in 
numbers, but the French in their demoralised con- 
dition scarcely put up a fight at all, in such wise 
that the Germans took about 1000 prisoners. The 
worst, however, was that, by seizing Ardenay, the 
enemy drove as it were a wedge between the French 
forces, hampering their concentration. Meantime, 
the 9th German Corps marched to Bouloire, which 
became Prince Frederick Charles's headquarters. The 
10th Corps, however, had not yet been able to advance 
to Parigne PEveque in accordance with the Prince's 
orders, though it had driven Barry back on Jupilles 
and Grand Luce. The sole advantage secured by 
the French that day was that Curten managed to 
retreat from Chateau-Renault ; but it was only on 
the night of the 10th, when he could be of little or 
no use to Chanzy, that he was able to reach Chateau- 
du-Loir, where, in response to Chanzy's urgent 


appeals, Jaureguiberry had succeeded in collecting 
a few thousand men to reinforce the troops defending 
Le Mans. 

For four days there had been fighting on one 
and another point, from the north-east to the south of 
the town, the result being unfavourable to the French. 
Chanzy, it is true, was at this critical moment in bad 
health. According to one account which I heard 
at the time, he had had an attack of dysentery; 
according to another, he was suffering from some 
throat complaint, combined with violent neuralgic 
pains in the head. I do not think, however, that his 
ill-health particularly affected the issue, which 
depended so largely on the manner in which his plans 
and instructions were carried out. The strategy 
adopted by the Germans at Sedan and in the battles 
around Metz had greatly impressed the generals who 
commanded the French armies during the second 
period of the war. One might really say that they 
lived in perpetual dread of being surrounded by the 
enemy. If there was a lack of concentration on 
Chanzy's part, if he sent out one and another flying 
column, and distributed a considerable portion of 
his army over a wide area, it was precisely because 
he feared some turning movement on the part of the 
Germans, which might result in bottling him up at 
Le Mans. 

The earlier instructions which Prince Frederick 
Charles forwarded to his subordinates certainly seem 
to indicate that a turning movement was projected. 
But after the fighting on January 9, when, as I have 
indicated, the 3rd German Army Corps penetrated 
wedge-like into the French lines, the Prince renounced 
any idea of surrounding Chanzy's forces, and resolved 
to make a vigorous frontal attack before they could 


be reinforced by any of the still outlying columns. 
In coming to this decision, the Prince may well have 
been influenced by the result of the recent fighting, 
which had sufficiently demonstrated the superiority 
of the German troops to show that, under the cir- 
cumstances, a frontal attack would be attended with 
far less risk than if he had found himself faced by 
a really vigorous antagonist. Captain Hozier, 
whom I had previously seen at Versailles, was at 
this time acting as Times correspondent with the 
Prince's army, and, in subsequently reviewing the 
fighting, he expressed the opinion that the issue of 
the Prince's operations was never for a moment 
doubtful. Still, on all points but one, the French 
put up a fairly good defence, as I will now show. 



The real Battle of Le Mans begins (January 10) Jouffroy and Paris are 
driven back Gougeard's Fight at Champagne The Breton Mobilises 
from Conlie Chanzy's Determination His Orders for January 11 
He inspects the Lines Paris driven from the Plateau of Auvours 
Gougeard's gallant re-capture of the Plateau My Return to Le Mans 
The Panic at La Tuilerie Retreat inevitable Withdrawal of the 
French Entry of the Germans Street Fighting German Exactions 
My Escape from Le Mans The French Retreat Rear-Guard 
Engagements Laval My Arrest as a Spy A Dramatic Adventure. 

SOME more snow fell on the morning of January 10, 
when the decisive fighting in front of Le Mans really 
began. On the evening of the 9th the French head- 
quarters was still without news of Generals Curten, 
Barry, and Jouffroy, and even the communications 
with Jaureguiberry were of an intermittent character. 
Nevertheless, Chanzy had made up his mind to give 
battle, and had sent orders to Jaureguiberry to send 
Jouffroy towards Parigne-l'Eveque (S.E.) and Barry 
towards Ecommoy (S. of Le Mans). But the roads 
were in so bad a condition, and the French troops 
had been so severely tried, and were so ill-provided 
for, that several of the commander-in-chief 's instruc- 
tions could not be carried out. 

Jouffroy at least did his best, and after a hard and 
tiring march from Grand Luc6, a part of his division 
reached Parigne in time to join in the action fought 
there. But it ended disastrously for the French, one 



of their brigades losing as many as 1400 men, and the 
Germans taking altogether some 2000 prisoners. 
Jouffroy's troops then fell back to Pontlieue, the 
southern suburb of Le Mans, in a lamentable con- 
dition, and took care to place the Huisne between 
themselves and the Germans. In the same direction 
Paris's demoralised division, already worsted at 
Ardenay on the previous day, was driven from 
Change by the 3rd German Corps, which took no 
fewer than 5000 prisoners. It had now almost cut 
the French eastern and southern lines apart, threaten- 
ing all direct communication between the 21st and 
the 16th French Corps. Nevertheless, it was in a 
dangerous position, having both of its flanks exposed 
to attack, one from Yvre and Auvours, and the other 
from Pontlieue and the Chemin des Bceufs, which 
last line was held by the 16th French Corps. 

Meantime, Gougeard's Bretons had been engaged 
at Champagne, quite a close encounter taking place 
in the fields and on the vineyard slopes, followed by 
a house-to-house fight in the village streets. The 
French were at last driven back ; but somewhat later, 
on the Germans retiring from Champagne, they 
reoccupied the place. The result of the day was 
that, apart from the somewhat hazardous success 
achieved by the 3rd German Corps, the enemy had 
gained no great advantage. His 13th Corps had 
made but little progress, his 9th had not been 
brought into action, and his 10th was as yet no 
nearer than Grand Luce. On the French side, 
Barry had at last reached Mulsanne, thus covering 
the direct southern road to Le Mans, Jaureguiberry 
being lower down at Ecommoy with some 9000 men 
of various arms and regiments, whom he had managed 
to get together. As for Curten's division, as it 



could not possibly reach the immediate neighbour- 
hood of Le Mans in time for the fighting on the llth, 
it received orders to march on La Suze, south-west 
of the imperilled town. During the 10th, moreover, 
Chanzy was strengthened by the welcome arrival 
of several additional field-pieces and a large number 
of horses. He had given orders to raise the Camp 
of Conlie, but instead of the forty or fifty thousand 
men, which at an earlier period it was thought that 
camp would be able to provide, he now only derived 
from it * some 9000 ill-equipped, badly armed, and 
almost undrilled Breton Mobilises. They were 
divided into six battalions one of which came from 
Saint Malo, the others from Rennes and Redon 
and were commanded by a general named Lalande. 
They proved to be no accession of strength ; they 
became, on the contrary, a source of weakness and 
disaster, for it was their behaviour which eventually 
sealed the fate of the Second Loire Army. 

But Chanzy, whatever his ailments might be, 
was personally full of energy and determination. 
He knew, moreover, that two new army corps (the 
19th and the 25th) were being got ready to reinforce 
him, and he was still resolved to give battle and hold 
on for another four or five days, when he relied on 
compelling Prince Frederick Charles to retreat. 
Then, with his reinforced army, he hoped to march 
once more in the direction of Paris. Curiously 
enough, it was precisely on that critical day, January 
10, that Gambetta sent Trochu a despatch by pigeon- 
post, telling him that on the 20th, at the latest, 
both Chanzy and Bourbaki would be moving on the 
capital, having between them over 400,000 men. 

* On the other hand, as I previously related, the camp had already 
provided the bulk of the men belonging to Gkmgeard's division. 


But if Chanzy's spirits did not fail him, those of 
his men were at a very low ebb indeed. He was 
repeatedly told so by subordinate commanders ; 
nevertheless (there was something Napoleonic in 
his character), he would not desist from his design, 
but issued instructions that there was to be a resolute 
defence of the lines on the llth, together with a 
determined effort to regain all lost positions. At the 
same time, the statements of the divisional generals 
respecting the low morale of some of the troops 
were not left unheeded, for a very significant order 
went forth, namely, that cavalry should be drawn 
up in the rear of the infantry wherever this might 
appear advisable. The inference was obvious. 

Three divisions and Lalande's Breton Mobilises 
were to hold the south-eastern lines from Arnage 
along the track known as the Chemin des Bceufs, 
and to link up, as well as possible, with Paris's and 
Gougeard's divisions, to which fell the duty of 
guarding the plateau of Auvours and the banks of 
the Huisne. The rest of the 21st Corps (to which 
Gougeard's division belonged) was to defend the 
space between the Huisne and the Sarthe. Colomb's 
fragmentary force, apart from Paris's division, was 
still to cover Le Mans towards the north-east. 
Barry's men, on their expected arrival, were to 
serve as reserves around Pontlieue. 

The morning of January 11 was bright. The 
snow had ceased falling, but lay some inches thick 
upon the ground. In order to facilitate the passage 
of troops, and particularly of military waggons, 
through the town, the Mayor of Le Mans ordered 
the inhabitants to clear away as much of this snow 
as possible ; but it naturally remained undisturbed 
all over the countryside. Little had been seen of 


Chanzy on the two previous days, but that morning 
he mounted horse and rode along the lines from the 
elevated position known as Le Tertre Rouge to the 
equally elevated position of Yvre. I saw him there, 
wrapped in a long loose cloak, the hood of which was 
drawn over his kepi. Near him was his picturesque 
escort of Algerian Spahis, and while he was conversing 
with some officers I pulled out a little sketch-book 
which I carried, and tried to outline the group. An 
aide-de-camp who noticed me at once came up to in- 
quire what I was doing, and I therefore had to produce 
the permit which, on returning to the front, I had 
obtained from the Chief of the Staff. It was found 
to be quite in order, and I went on with my work. 
But a few minutes later the general, having given 
his orders, gathered up his reins to ride away. As 
he slowly passed me, he gave me just one little sharp 
glance, and with a faint suspicion of a smile remarked, 
" I will look at that another time." The aide-de-camp 
had previously told him what my purpose was. 

That day the 3rd German Corps again resumed the 
offensive, and once more drove Gougeard out of 
Champagne. Then the enemy's 9th Corps, which on 
January 10 had done little or nothing, and was 
therefore quite fresh, was brought into action, and 
made a resolute attack on the plateau of Auvours. 
There was a fairly long fight, which could be seen 
from Yvre. But the Germans were too strong for 
Paris' s men, who at last disbanded, and came, helter- 
skelter, towards the bridge of Yvre in terrible con- 
fusion. Flight is often contagious, and Gougeard, 
who had fallen back from Champagne in fairly good 
order, feared lest his men should imitate their com- 
rades. He therefore pointed two field-pieces on the 
runaways, and by that means checked their stampede. 


Having established themselves at the farther end 
of the plateau, the Germans advanced very 
cautiously, constantly seeking cover behind the 
various hedges. General de Colomb, to whose 
command Paris's runaway division belonged, insisted, 
however, that the position must be retaken. 
Gougeard thereupon collected a very miscellaneous 
force, which included regular infantry, mobiles, 
mobilises, and some of Charette's Volontaires de 
1' Quest previously known in Rome as the Pontifical 
Zouaves. Placing himself at the head of these men, 
he made a vigorous effort to carry out Colomb's 
orders. The French went forward almost at the 
charge, the Germans waiting for them from behind 
the hedges, whence poured a hail of lead. Gougeard's 
horse was shot under him, a couple of bullets went 
through his coat, and another or, as some said, a 
splinter of a shell knocked off his kepi. Still, he 
continued leading his men, and in the fast failing 
light the Germans, after repeated encounters, were 
driven back to the verge of the plateau. 

That was told me afterwards, for at the moment 
I was already on my way back to Le Mans, which 
I wished to reach before it was absolutely night. 
On coming from the town early in the morning, I 
had brought a few eatables in my pockets, but they 
had soon been consumed, and I had found it impos- 
sible to obtain any food whatever at Yvre, though 
some of the very indifferent local wine was pro- 
curable. Thus I was feeling very hungry as I 
retraced my steps through the snow towards the 
little hostelry in the Rue du Gue de Maulny, where 
I had secured accommodation. It was a walk of 
some four or five miles, but the cold urged me on, 
and, in spite of the snow, I made the journey fairly 


rapidly, in such wise that little more than an hour 
later I was seated in a warm room in front of some 
steaming soup, answering all sorts of questions as 
to what I had seen during the day, and particularly 
whether les notres had gained a victory. I could 
only answer that the " Prussians " had taken 
Auvours, but that fighting was still going on, as 
Gougeard had gone to recapture the position. At 
the moment, indeed, that was the extent of my 
information. The landlord looked rather glum and 
his daughter somewhat anxious, and the former, 
shaking his head, exclaimed : " Voyez-vous, 
Monsieur 1' Anglais, nous n'avons pas de chance 
pas de chance du tout ! Je ne sais pas a quoi ca 
tient, mais c'est comme a. Et, tenez, cela ne me 
surprendrait pas de voir ces sales Prussiens dans la 
ville d'ici a demain ! " * Unfortunately for Le Mans 
and for France also, his forebodings were accurate. 
At that very moment, indeed, a great disaster was 

Jaureguiberry had reached the southern suburb 
of Pontlieue at about nine o'clock that morning after 
a night march from Ecommoy. He had divided his 
miscellaneous force of 9000 men into three brigades. 
As they did not seem fit for immediate action, they 
were drafted into the reserves, so that their arrival 
was of no particular help that day: About eleven 
o'clock the 3rd German Corps, coming from the 
direction of Change, attacked Jouffroy's lines along 
the more northern part of the so-called Chemin des 
Boeufs, and, though Jouffroy's men fought fairly well, 
they could not prevent their foes from capturing 

* "We have no luck, no luck at all. I don't know why, but there it is. 
And, do you know, it would not surprise me to see those dirty Prussians 
in the town between now and to-morrow." 


the position of the Tertre Rouge. Still, the enemy 
gained no decisive success in this direction ; nor was 
any marked result attained by the 13th German 
Corps which formed the extreme right of the attack- 
ing forces. But Prince Frederick Charles had sent 
orders to Voigts Rhetz, who was at Grand Luce,* to 
advance with the 10th Corps on Mulsanne, which the 
French had evacuated; and on reaching Mulsanne, 
the same general received instructions to come to 
the support of the 3rd Corps, which was engaged 
with Jouffroy's force. Voigts Rhetz's men were 
extremely fatigued ; nevertheless, the 20th Division 
of Infantry, commanded by General Kraatz- 
Koschlau, went on towards the Chemin des Bceufs, 
following the direct road from Tours to Le Mans. 

Here there was an elevated position known as 
La Tuilerie otherwise the tile-works which had 
been fortified expressly to prevent the Germans 
from bursting upon Le Mans from the direct south. 
Earth-works for guns had been thrown up, trenches 
had been dug, the pine trees, so abundant on the 
southern side of Le Mans, had been utilised for other 
shielding works, as well as for shelter-places for the 
defending force. Unfortunately, at the moment of 
the German advance, that defending force consisted 
of the ill-equipped, badly armed, and almost un- 
trained Breton Mobilises,! who, as I have already 
related, had arrived the previous day from the 
camp of Conlie under the command of General 
Lalande. It is true that near these men was stationed 
an infantry brigade of the 6th Corps d'Armee, whose 
duty it was to support and steady them. They 

* A brigade of cavalry kept up communications between him and the 
3rd Army Corps. 

| There were just a few old soldiers among them. 


undoubtedly needed to be helped, for the great 
majority had never been in action before. More- 
over, in addition to the infantry brigade, there were 
two batteries of artillery ; but I fear that for the most 
part the gunners were little better than recruits. 
Exaggerated statements have been made respecting 
the quality of the firearms with which the Mobilises 
were provided. Many of the weapons were after- 
wards found to be very dirty, even rusty, but that 
was the result of neglect, which their officers should 
have remedied. It is true, however, that these 
weapons were for the most part merely percussion 
guns. Again, it has been said that the men had no 
ammunition, but that statement was certainly 
inaccurate. On the other hand, these Mobilises 
were undoubtedly very cold and very hungry 
even as I myself was that day no rations having 
been served to them until late in the afternoon, that 
is, shortly before they were attacked, at which 
moment, indeed, they were actually preparing the 
meal for which they had so long been waiting. 

The wintry night was gathering round when 
Kraatz-Koschlau found himself with his division 
before the position of La Tuilerie. He could see 
that it was fortified, and before attempting any 
further advance he fired a few shells. The Mobilises 
were immediately panic-stricken. They made no 
attempt at defence ; hungry though they were, they 
abandoned even their pots and pans, and fled in the 
direction of Pontlieue, which formed, as it were, a 
.long avenue, fringed with factories, textile mills, 
bleaching works, and so forth. In vain did their 
officers try to stop the fugitives, even striking them 
with the flats of their swords, in vain did Lalande 
and his staff seek to intercept them at the Rond 


Point de Pontlieue. Nothing could induce them to 
stop. They threw away their weapons in order to 
run the faster. At La Tuilerie not a g&n was fired 
at the Germans. Even the infantry brigade fell 
back without attempting to fight. 

All this occurred at a moment when everybody 
thought that the day's fighting was over. But 
Jaureguiberry appeared upon the scene, and ordered 
one of his subordinates, General Lebouedec, to 
retake the lost position. Lebouedec tried to do so 
with 1000 tired men, who had been in action during 
the day, and failed. A second attempt proved 
equally futile. No effort apparently was made to 
secure help from Barry, who was at Arnage with 
5000 infantry and two brigades of cavalry, and who 
might have fallen on the left flank of the German 
Corps. La Tuilerie was lost, and with it Le Mans 
was lost also. 

I was quietly sipping some coffee and reading 
the local newspapers three or four were published 
at Le Mans in those days when I heard of that 
disastrous stampede. Some of the men had reached 
the town, spreading the contagion of fear as they 
came. Tired though I was, I at once went towards 
the Avenue de Pontlieue, where the excitement was 
general. Gendarmes were hurrying hither and 
thither, often arresting the runaways, and at other 
times picking up weapons and cartridge-cases which 
had been flung away. So numerous were the 
abandoned weapons and equipments that cartloads 
of them were collected. Every now and then an 
estafette galloped to or from the town. The civilians 
whom one met wore looks of consternation. It was 
evident, indeed, to everybody who knew how im- 
portant was the position of La Tuilerie, that its 


capture by the Germans placed Le Mans in jeopardy. 
When the two attempts to retake it had failed, 
Jaureguiberry urged immediate retreat. This was 
rendered the more imperative by other events of the 
night and the early morning, for, inspirited by their 
capture of La Tuilerie, the Germans made fresh 
efforts in other directions, so that Barry had to quit 
Arnage, whilst Jouffroy lost most of his positions 
near the Chemin des Bceufs, and the plateau 
d'Auvours had again to be evacuated. 

At 8 a.m. on January 12, Chanzy, after suggest- 
ing a fresh attempt to recover La Tuilerie, which 
was prevented by the demoralisation of the troops, 
was compelled to give a reluctant assent to Jauregui- 
berry's proposals of retreat. At the same time, he 
wished the retreat to be carried out slowly and 
methodically, and informed Gambetta that he 
intended to withdraw in the direction of Alen9on 
(Orne) and Pre-en-Pail (Mayenne). This meant 
moving into Normandy, and Gambetta pointed out 
that such a course would leave all Brittany open to 
the enemy, and enable him to descend without 
opposition even to the mouth of the Loire. Chanzy 
was therefore instructed to retreat on Laval, and did 
so ; but as he had already issued orders for the other 
route, great confusion ensued, the new orders only 
reaching the subordinate commanders on the evening 
of the 12th. 

From January 6 to 12 the French had lost 6000 
men in killed and wounded. The Germans had 
taken 20,000 prisoners, and captured seventeen guns 
and a large quantity of army materiel. Further, 
there was an incalculable number of disbanded 
Mobiles and Mobilises. If Prince Frederick Charles 
had known at the time to what a deplorable condition 


Chanzy's army had been reduced, he would 
probably have acted more vigorously than he did. 
It is true that his own men (as Von Hoenig has 
admitted) were, generally speaking, in a state of 
great fatigue after the six days' fighting, and also 
often badly circumstanced in regard to clothing, 
boots, and equipments.* Such things cannot last 
for ever, and there had been little or no opportunity 
to renew anything since the second battle of Orleans 
early in December. In the fighting before Le Mans, 
however, the German loss in killed and wounded was 
only 3400 200 of the number being officers, whom 
the French picked off as often as possible. 

On the morning of the 12th all was confusion 
at Pontlieue. Guns, waggons, horsemen, infantry- 
men, were congregated there, half blocking up the 
bridge which connects this suburb with Le Mans. 
A small force under General de Roquebrune was 
gallantly striving to check the Germans at one part 
of the Chemin des Bceufs, in order to cover the 
retreat. A cordon of gendarmes had been drawn 
up at the railway-station to prevent it from being 
invaded by all the runaways. Some hundreds of 
wounded men were allowed access, however, in order 
that they might, if possible, get away in one of the 
many trains which were being sent off as rapidly as 
possible. This service was in charge of an official 
named Piquet, who acted with the greatest energy and 
acumen. Of the five railway -lines meeting at Le Mans 
only two were available, that running to Rennes via 
Laval, and that running to Angers. I find from a 
report drawn up by M. Piquet a little later, that he 
managed to send off twenty-five trains, some of them 

* Even when the armistice arrived I saw many German soldiers wearing 
French sabots. 


drawn by two and three engines. They included 
about 1000 vans, trucks, and coaches ; that is 558 
vans laden with provisions (in part for the relief 
of Paris) ; 134 vans and trucks laden with artillery 
materiel and stores, 70 vans of ammunition, 150 
empty vans and trucks, and 176 passenger carriages. 
On securing possession of the station, however, the 
Germans still found there about 200 vans and 
carriages, and at least a dozen locomotive engines. 
The last train left at 2.45 p.m. I myself got away 
(as I shall presently relate) shortly after two o'clock, 
when the station was already being bombarded. 

General de Roquebrune having, at last, been 
compelled to withdraw from the vicinity of the 
Chemin des Bceufs, the Germans came on to the 
long avenue of Pontlieue. Here they were met by 
most of the corps of gendarmes, which, as I previously 
related, was attached to the headquarters-staff 
under General Bourdillon. These men, who had 
two Gatlings with them, behaved with desperate 
bravery in order to delay the German entry into the 
town. About a hundred of them, including a couple 
of officers, were killed during that courageous 
defence. It was found impossible, however, to blow 
up the bridge. The operation had been delayed as 
long as possible in order to facilitate the French 
retreat, and when the gendarmes themselves with- 
drew, there no longer remained sufficient time to 
put it into execution. 

The first Germans to enter the town belonged 
to the 38th Brigade of Infantry, and to part of a 
cavalry force under General von Schmidt. After 
crossing the bridge of Pontlieue, they divided into 
three columns. One of them proceeded up the Rue 
du Quartier de Cavalerie in the direction of the 


Place des Jacobins and the cathedral. The second 
also went towards the upper town, marching, however, 
by way of the Rue Basse, which conducted to the 
Place des Halles, where the chief hotels and cafe's 
were situated. Meantime, the third column turned 
to the left, and hastened towards the railway station. 
But, to their great amazement, their advance was 
repeatedly checked. There were still a number of 
French soldiers in the town, among them being 
Mobile Guards, Gendarmes, Franc-tireurs, and a 
party of Marine Fusiliers. The German column 
which began to ascend the Rue Basse was repeatedly 
fired at, whereupon its commanding officer halted 
his men, and by way of punishment had seven houses 
set on fire, before attempting to proceed farther. 
Nevertheless, the resistance was prolonged at various 
points, on the Place des Jacobins, for instance, and 
again on the Place des Halles. Near the latter 
square is or was a little street called the Rue 
Dumas, from which the French picked off a dozen 
or twenty Germans, so infuriating their commander 
that he sent for a couple of field-pieces, and threatened 
to sweep the whole town with projectiles. 

Meantime, a number of the French who had 
lingered at Le Mans were gradually effecting their 
escape. Many artillery and commissariat waggons 
managed to get away, and a local notability, M. 
Eugene Caillaux father of M. Joseph Caillaux who 
was French Prime Minister during the latter half of 
1911, and who is now (Dec., 1913) Minister of Finances 
succeeded in sending out of the town several carts 
full of rifles, which some of the French troops had 
flung away. However, the street-fighting could not 
be indefinitely prolonged. It ceased when about a 
hundred Germans and a larger number of French, 


both soldiers and civilians, had been killed. The 
Germans avenged themselves by pillaging the houses 
in the Rue Dumas, and several on the Place des 
Halles, though they spared the Hotel de France 
there, as their commander, Voigts Rhetz, reserved 
it for his own accommodation. Whilst the bom- 
bardment of a part of the lower town continued 
the railway station and the barracks called the 
Caserne de la Mission being particularly affected 
raids were made on the French ambulances, in one 
of which, on the Boulevard Negrier, a patient was 
barbarously bayoneted in his bed, on the pretext 
that he was a Franc-tireur, whereas he really belonged 
to the Mobile Guard. At the ambulance of the 
Ecole Normale, the sisters and clergy were, according 
to their sworn statements, grossly ill-treated. 
Patients, some of whom were suffering from small- 
pox, were turned out of their beds which were 
required, it was said, for the German wounded. All 
the wine that could be found was drunk, money was 
stolen, and there was vindictive destruction on all 

The Mayor * of Le Mans, M. Richard, and his 
two adjointe, or deputies, went down through the 
town carrying a towel as a flag of truce, and on the 
Place de la Mission they at last found Voigts Rhetz 
surrounded by his staff. The General at once informed 
the Mayor that, in consequence of the resistance of 
the town, it would have to pay a war-levy of four 
millions of francs (160,000) within twenty-four 
hours, and that the inhabitants would have to lodge 
and feed the German forces as long as they remained 

* The Prefect, M. Le Chevalier, had followed the army in its retreat, 
considering it his duty to watch over the uninvaded part of the department 
of the Sarthe. 


there. All the appeals made against these hard 
conditions were disregarded during nearly a fort- 
night. When both the Mayor and the Bishop of 
Le Mans solicited audiences of Prince Frederick 
Charles, they were told by the famous Count Harry 
von Arnim who, curiously enough, subsequently 
became German Ambassador to France, but embroiled 
himself with Bismarck and died in exile that if 
they only wished to tender their humble duty to 
the Prince he would graciously receive them, but 
that he refused to listen to any representations on 
behalf of the town. 

A first sum of 20,000 and some smaller ones were 
at last got together in this town of 37,000 inhabitants, 
and finally, on January 23, the total levy was reduced, 
as a special favour, to 80,000. Certain German 
requisitions were also to be set off against 20,000 
of that amount ; but they really represented about 
double the figure. A public loan had to be raised 
in the midst of continual exactions, which lasted 
even after the preliminaries of peace had been 
signed, the Germans regarding Le Mans as a 
milch cow from which too much could not be 

The anxieties of the time might well have sufficed 
to make the Mayor ill, but, as a matter of fact, he 
caught small-pox, and his place had to be taken by 
a deputy, who with the municipal council, to which 
several local notabilities were adjoined, did all that 
was possible to satisfy the greed of the Germans. 
Small-pox, I may mention, was very prevalent at 
Le Mans, and some of the ambulances were specially 
reserved for soldiers who had contracted that 
disease. Altogether, about 21,000 men (both French 
and Germans), suffering from wounds or diseases 


of various kinds, were treated in the town's ambu- 
lances from November 1 to April 15. 

Some thousands of Germans were billeted on the 
inhabitants, whom they frequently robbed with 
impunity, all complaints addressed to the German 
Governor, an officer named Von Heiduck, being 
disregarded. This individual ordered all the inhabit- 
ants to give up any weapons which they possessed, 
under penalty of death. Another proclamation 
ordained the same punishment for anybody who 
might give the slightest help to the French army, 
or attempt to hamper the German forces. More- 
over, the editors, printers, and managers of three 
local newspapers were summarily arrested and kept 
in durance on account of articles against the Germans 
which they had written, printed, or published before 
Chanzy's defeat. 

On January 13, which chanced to be a Friday, 
Prince Frederick Charles made his triumphal entry 
into Le Mans, the bands of the German regiments 
playing all their more popular patriotic airs along 
the route which his Royal Highness took in order 
to reach the Prefecture a former eighteenth-century 
convent where he intended to install himself. On 
the following day the Mayor received the following 
letter : 


" I request you to send to the Prefecture 
by half-past five o'clock this afternoon 24 spoons, 
24 forks, and 36 knives, as only just sufficient for 
the number of people at table have been sent, and 
there is no means of changing the covers. For 
dinner you will provide 20 bottles of Bordeaux, 
30 bottles of Champagne, two bottles of Madeira, 


and 2 bottles of liqueurs, which must be at the Pre- 
fecture at six o'clock precisely. The wine previously 
sent not being good, neither the Bordeaux nor the 
Champagne, you must send better kinds, otherwise 
I shall have to inflict a fine upon the town. 

(Signed) "VoN KANITZ.' 


This communication was followed almost im- 
mediately afterwards by another, emanating from 
the same officer, who was one of the Prince's aides- 
de-camp. He therein stated (invariably employing, 
be it said, execrable French) that the cafe-au-lait 
was to be served at the Prefecture at 8 a.m. ; the 
dejeuner at noon ; and the dinner at 7.30 p.m. At 
ten o'clock every morning, the Mayor was to send 
40 bottles of Bordeaux, 40 bottles of Champagne, 
6 bottles of Madeira, and 3 bottles of liqueurs. He 
was also to provide waiters to serve at table, and 
kitchen- and scullery-maids. And Kanitz concluded 
by saying : "If the least thing fails, a remarkable 
(sic) fine will be inflicted on the town." 

On January 15 an order was sent to the Mayor 
to supply at once, for the Prince's requirements, 
25 kilogrammes of ham ; 13 kilos, of sausages ; 
13 kilos, of tongues ; 5 dozen eggs ; vegetables of 
all sorts, particularly onions ; 15 kilos, of Gruyere 
cheese ; 5 kilos, of Parmesan ; 15 kilos, of best 
veal ; 20 fowls ; 6 turkeys ; 12 ducks ; 5 kilos, of 
powdered sugar.* No wine was ever good enough 
for Prince Frederick Charles and his staff. The 
complaints sent to the town-hall were incessant. 
Moreover, the supply of Champagne, by no means 
large in such a place as Le Mans, gave out, and then 

* All the German orders and requisitions are preserved in the municipal 
archives of Le Mans. 



came all sorts of threats. The muncipal councillors 
had to trot about trying to discover a few bottles 
here and there in private houses, in order to supply 
the requirements of the Princely Staff. There was 
also a scarcity of vegetables, and yet there were 
incessant demands for spinach, cauliflowers, and 
artichokes, and even fruit for the Prince's tarts. 
One day Kanitz went to the house where the un- 
fortunate Mayor was lying in bed, and told him that 
he must get up and provide vegetables, as none had 
been sent for the Prince's table. The Mayor pro- 
tested that the whole countryside was covered with 
snow, and that it was virtually impossible to satisfy 
such incessant demands ; but, as he afterwards 
related, ill and worried though he was, he could not 
refrain from laughing when he was required to supply 
several pounds of truffles. Truffles at Le Mans, 
indeed ! In those days, too ! The idea was quite 

Not only had the demands of Prince Frederick 
Charles's staff to be satisfied, but there were those of 
Voigts Rhetz, and of all the officers lodging at the 
Hotel de France, the Hotel du Dauphin, the Hotel 
de la Boule d'Or and other hostelries. These 
gentlemen were very fond of giving dinners, and 
" mine host " was constantly being called upon to 
provide all sorts of delicacies at short notice. The 
cellars of the Hotel de France were drunk dry. The 
common soldiers also demanded the best of every- 
thing at the houses where they were billeted ; and 
sometimes they played extraordinary pranks there. 
Half a dozen of them, who were lodged at a wine-shop 
in, I think, the Rue Dumas, broached a cask of 
brandy, poured the contents into a tub, and washed 
their feet in the spirituous liquor. It may be that 


a " brandy bath " is a good thing for sore feet ; and 
that might explain the incident. However, when 
I think of it, I am always reminded of how, in the 
days of the Second Empire, the spendthrift Due 
de Gramont-Caderousse entered the Cafe Anglais in 
Paris, one afternoon, called for a silver soup-tureen, 
had two or three bottles of champagne poured into 
it, and then made an unrepentant Magdalen of the 
Boulevards, whom he had brought with him, wash 
his feet in the sparkling wine. From that afternoon 
until the Cafe Anglais passed out of existence no 
silver soup-tureens were ever used there. 

I have given the foregoing particulars respecting 
the German occupation of Le Mans they are 
principally derived from official documents just 
to show the reader what one might expect if, for 
instance, a German force should land at Hull or 
Grimsby and fight its way successfully to let us 
say York or Leeds or Nottingham. The incidents 
which occurred at Le Mans were by no means 
peculiar to that town. Many similar instances 
occurred throughout the invaded regions of France. 
I certainly do not wish to impute gluttony to Prince 
Frederick Charles personally. But during the years 
which followed the Franco-German War I made 
three fairly long stays at Berlin, putting up at good 
hotels, where officers sometimes generals often 
lunched and dined. And their appetites frequently 
amazed me, whilst their manners at table were 
repulsive. In those days most German officers 
were bearded, and I noticed that between the 
courses at luncheon and at dinner it was a common 
practice of theirs to produce pocket-glasses and 
pocket-combs, and comb their beards as well as 
the hair on their heads over the table. As for their 


manner of eating and the noise they made in doing 
so, the less said the better. In regard to manners, 
I have always felt that the French of 1870-71 were 
in some respects quite entitled to call their enemies 
" barbarians " ; but that was forty-three years ago, 
and as time works wonders, the manners of the 
German military element may have improved. 

In saying something about the general appear- 
ance of Le Mans, I pointed out that the town now 
has a Place de la Republique, a Gambetta Bridge, 
a Rue Thiers, and a statue of Chanzy ; but at the 
period of the war and for a long time afterwards 
it detested the Republic (invariably returning 
Bonapartist or Orleanist deputies), sneered at Gam- 
betta, and hotly denounced the commander of the 
Loire Army. Its grievance against Chanzy was 
that he had made it his headquarters and given 
battle in its immediate vicinity. The conflict having 
ended disastrously for the French arms, the towns- 
folk lamented that it had ever taken place. Why 
had Chanzy brought his army there ? they indig- 
nantly inquired. He might very well have gone 
elsewhere. So strong was this Manceau feeling 
against the general a feeling inspired by the 
sufferings which the inhabitants experienced at 
the time, notably in consequence of the German 
exactions that fifteen years later, when the general's 
statue (for which there had been a national sub- 
scription) was set up in the town, the displeasure 
there was very great, and the monument was sub- 
jected to the most shameful indignities.* But all 

* At Nouart, his native place, there is another statue of Chanzy, which 
shows him pointing towards the east. On the pedestal is the inscription : 
" The generals who wish to obtain the baton of Marshal of France must 
seek it across the Rhine " words spoken by him in one of his speeches 
subsequent to the war. 


that has passed. Nowadays, both at Auvours and 
at Pontlieue, there are monuments to those who fell 
fighting for France around Le Mans, and doubtless 
the town, in becoming more Republican, has become 
more patriotic also. 

Before relating how I escaped from Le Mans on 
the day when the retreat was ordered, there are a 
few other points with which I should like to deal 
briefly. It is tolerably well known that I made the 
English translation of Emile Zola's great novel, " La 
Debacle," and a good many of my present readers 
may have read that work either in the original 
French or in the version prepared by me. Now, I 
have always thought that some of the characters 
introduced by Zola into his narrative were somewhat 
exceptional. I doubt if there were many such 
absolutely neurotic degenerates as " Maurice " in the 
French Army at any period of the war. I certainly 
never came across such a character. Again, the 
psychology of Stephen Crane's " Red Badge of 
Courage," published a few years after " La Debacle," 
and received with acclamations by critics most of 
whom had never in their lives been under fire, also 
seems to me to be of an exceptional character. I 
much prefer the psychology of the Waterloo episode 
in Stendhal's " Chartreuse de Parme," because it 
is of more general application. " The Red Badge 
of Courage," so the critics told us, showed what a 
soldier exactly felt and thought in the midst of 
warfare. Unlike Stendhal, however, its author had 
never " served." No more had Zola ; and I feel 
that many of the pictures which novelists have given 
us of a soldier's emotions when in action apply only 
to exceptional cases, and are even then somewhat 


In action there is no time for thought. The 
most trying hours for a man who is in any degree of 
a sensitive nature are those spent in night-duty as 
a sentry or as one of a small party at some lonely 
outpost. Then thoughts of home and happiness, 
and of those one loves, may well arise. There is 
one little point in connexion with this subject which 
I must mention. Whenever letters were found on 
the bodies of men who fell during the Franco-German 
War, they were, if this man was a Frenchman, more 
usually letters from his mother, and, if he was a 
German, more usually letters from his sweetheart. 
Many such letters found their way into print during 
the course of the war. It is a well-known fact that 
a Frenchman's cult for his mother is a trait of the 
national character, and that a Frenchwoman almost 
always places her child before her husband. 

But what struck me particularly during the 
Franco-German War was that the anxieties and 
mental sufferings of the French officers were much 
keener than those of the men. Many of those officers 
were married, some had young children, and in the 
silent hours of a lonely night-watch their thoughts 
often travelled to their dear ones. I well remember 
how an officer virtually unbosomed himself to me 
on this subject one night near Yvre-1'Eveque. The 
reason of it all is obvious. The higher a man's 
intelligence, the greater is his sense of responsibility 
and the force of his attachments. But in action the 
latter are set aside ; they only obtrude at such times 
as I have said or else at the moment of death. 

Of actual cowardice there were undoubtedly 
numerous instances during the war, but a great deal 
might be said in defence of many of the men who here 
and there abandoned their positions. During the 


last months their sufferings were frequently terrible. 
At best they were often only partially trained. There 
was little cohesion in many battalions. There was a 
great lack of efficient non-commissioned officers. 
Instead of drafting regular soldiers from the depots 
into special regiments, as was often done, it might 
have been better to have distributed them among 
the Mobiles and Mobilises, whom they would have 
steadied. Judging by all that I witnessed at that 
period, I consider it essential that any territorial 
force should always contain a certain number of 
trained soldiers who have previously been in action. 
And any such force should always have the support 
of regulars and of efficient artillery. I have related 
how certain Breton Mobilises abandoned La Tuilerie. 
They fled before the regulars or the artillery could 
support them ; but they were, perhaps, the very 
rawest levies in all Chanzy's forces. Other Breton 
Mobilises, on other points, fought very well for men 
of their class. For instance, no reproach could be 
addressed to the battalions of St. Brieuc, Brest, 
Quimper, Lorient, and Nantes. They were better 
trained than were the men stationed at La Tuilerie, 
and it requires some time to train a Breton properly. 
That effected, he makes a good soldier. 

Respecting my own feelings during that war, I 
may say that the paramount one was curiosity. To 
be a journalist, a man must be inquisitive. It is 
a sine qua non of his profession. Moreover, I was 
very young ; I had no responsibilities ; I may have 
been in love, or have thought I was, but I was on my 
own, and my chief desire was to see as much as 
I could. I willingly admit that, when Gougeard's 
column was abruptly attacked at Droue, I experi- 
enced some trepidation at finding myself under 


fire ; but firmness may prove as contagious as fear, 
and when Gougeard rallied his men and went forward 
to repel the Germans, interest and a kind of excite- 
ment took possession of me. Moreover, as I was, 
at least nominally, attached to the ambulance service, 
there was duty to be done, and that left no opportu- 
nity for thought. The pictures of the ambulances 
in or near Sedan are among the most striking ones 
contained in " La Debacle," and, judging by what 
I saw elsewhere, Zola exaggerated nothing. The 
ambulance is the truly horrible side of warfare. To 
see men lying dead on the ground is, so to say, 
nothing. One gets used to it. But to see them 
amputated, and to see them lying in bed suffering, 
often acutely, from dreadful wounds, or horrible 
diseases dysentery, typhus, small-pox that is the 
thing which tries the nerves of all but the doctors 
and the trained nurses. On several occasions I 
helped to carry wounded men, and felt no emotion 
in doing so ; but more than once I was almost over- 
come by the sight of all the suffering in some 

When, on the morning of January 12, I heard 
that a general retreat had been ordered, I hesitated 
as to what course I should pursue. I did not then 
anticipate the street-fighting, and the consequent 
violence of the Germans. But journalistic instinct 
told me that if I remained in the town until after the 
German entry I might then find it very difficult to 
get away and communicate with my people. At the 
same time, I did not think the German entry so 
imminent as proved to be the case ; and I spent a 
considerable time in the streets watching all the 
tumult which prevailed there. Now and again a 
sadly diminished battalion went by in fairly good 


order. But numbers of disbanded men hurried 
hither and thither in confusion. Here and there 
a street was blocked with army vans and waggons, 
whose drivers were awaiting orders, not knowing 
which direction to take. Officers and estafettes 
galloped about on all sides. Then a number of 
wounded men were carried in carts, on stretchers, 
and on trucks towards the railway-station. Others, 
with their heads bandaged or their arms in slings, 
walked painfully in the same direction. Outside 
the station there was a strong cordon of Gendarmes 
striving to resist all the pressure of a great mob of 
disbanded men who wished to enter and get away 
in the trains. At one moment, when, after quite a 
struggle, some of the wounded were conveyed through 
the mob and the cordon, the disbanded soldiers 
followed, and many of them fought their way into 
the station in spite of all the efforts of the Gendarmes. 
The melee was so desperate that I did not attempt 
to follow, but, after watching it for some time, 
retraced my steps towards my lodging. All was 
hubbub and confusion at the little inn, and only 
with difficulty could I get anything to eat there. 
A little later, however, I managed to tell the landlord 
his name was Dubuisson that I meant to follow 
the army, and, if possible, secure a place in one of 
the trains which were frequently departing. After 
stowing a few necessaries away in my pockets, I 
begged him to take charge of my bag until some 
future day, and the worthy old man then gave me 
some tips as to how I might make my way into the 
station, by going a little beyond it, and climbing a 

We condoled with one another and shook hands. 
I then went out. The cannonade, which had been 


going on for several hours, had now become more 
violent. Several shells had fallen on or near the 
Caserne de la Mission during the morning. Now 
others were falling near the railway-station. I went 
my way, however, turned to the right on quitting 
the Rue du Gue-de-Maulny, reached some palings, 
and got on to the railway-line. Skirting it, I turned 
to the left, going back towards the station. I passed 
one or two trains, which were waiting. But they 
were composed of trucks and closed vans. I might 
perhaps have climbed on to one of the former, but 
it was a bitterly cold day ; and as for the latter, 
of course I could not hope to enter one of them. So 
I kept on towards the station, and presently, 
without let or hindrance, I reached one of the 

Le Mans being an important junction, its station 
was very large, in some respects quite monumental. 
The principal part was roofed with glass and sug- 
gested Charing Cross. I do not remember exactly 
the number of lines of metals running through it, 
but I think there must have been four or five. There 
were two trains waiting there, one of them, which 
was largely composed of passenger carriages, being 
crammed with soldiers. I tried to get into one 
carriage, but was fiercely repulsed. So, going to the 
rear of this train, I crossed to another platform, where 
the second train was. This was made up of passenger 
coaches and vans. I scrambled into one of the latter, 
which was open. There were a number of packing- 
cases inside it, but there was at least standing room 
for several persons. Two railway men and two or 
three soldiers were already there. One of the former 
helped me to get in. I had, be it said, a semi-military 
appearance, for my grey frieze coat was frogged, and 


besides, what was more important, I wore the red- 
cross armlet given me at the time when I followed 
Gougeard's column. 

Almost immediately afterwards the train full of 
soldiers got away. The cannonade was now very 
loud, and the glass roof above us constantly vibrated. 
Some minutes elapsed whilst we exchanged impres- 
sions. Then, all at once, a railway official it may 
have been M. Piquet himself* rushed along the 
platform in the direction of the engine, shouting as 
he went: "Depechez! Depechez! Sauvez-vous ! " 
At the same moment a stray artilleryman was seen 
hastening towards us ; but suddenly there came a 
terrific crash of glass, a shell burst through the roof 
and exploded, and the unlucky artilleryman fell 
on the platform, evidently severely wounded. We 
were already in motion, however, and the line being 
clear, we got fairly swiftly across the viaduct spanning 
the Sarthe. This placed us beyond the reach of the 
enemy, and we then slowed down. 

One or two more trains were got away after ours, 
the last one, I believe, being vainly assailed by some 
Uhlans before it had crossed the viaduct. The 
latter ought then to have been blown up, but an 
attempt to do so proved ineffectual. We went on 
very slowly on account of the many trains in front of 
us. Every now and again, too, there came a weari- 
some stop. It was bitterly cold, and it was in vain 
that we beat the tattoo with our feet in the hope 
of thereby warming them. The men with me were 
also desperately hungry, and complained of it so 
bitterly and so frequently, that, at last, I could 
not refrain from producing a little bread and meat 
which I had secured at Le Mans and sharing it with 

* See p. 283, ante. 


them. But it merely meant a bite for each of us. 
However, on stopping at last at Conlie station 
some sixteen or seventeen miles from Le Mans 
we all hastily scrambled out of the train, rushed 
into a little inn, and almost fought like wild beasts 
for scraps of food. Then on we went once more, 
still very slowly, still stopping again and again, 
sometimes for an hour at a stretch, until, half numbed 
by the cold, weary of stamping our feet, and still 
ravenous, we reached the little town of Sille-le- 
Guillaume, which is not more than eight or nine 
miles from Conlie. 

At Sille I secured a tiny garret-like room at the 
crowded Hotel de la Croix d'Or, a third-rate hostelry, 
which was already invaded by officers, soldiers, 
railway officials, and others who had quitted Le Mans 
before I had managed to do so. My comparatively 
youthful appearance won for me, however, the good 
favour of the buxom landlady, who, after repeatedly 
declaring to other applicants that she had not a 
corner left in the whole house, took me aside and said 
in an undertone : " Listen, I will put you in a little 
cabinet upstairs. I will show you the way by and by. 
But don't tell anybody." And she added com- 
passionately : " Mon pauvre garqon, you look frozen. 
Go into the kitchen. There is a good fire there, and 
you will get something to eat." 

Truth to tell, the larder was nearly empty, but 
I secured a little cheese and some bread and some 
very indifferent wine, which, however, in my then 
condition, seemed to me to be nectar. I helped 
myself to a bowl, I remember, and poured about a 
pint of wine into it, so as to soak my bread, which 
was stale and hard. Toasting my feet at the fire 
whilst I regaled myself with that improvised 


soupe-au-vin, I soon felt warm and inspirited once 
more. Hardship sits on one but lightly when one is 
only seventeen years of age and stirred by early 
ambition. All the world then lay before me, like mine 
oyster, to be opened by either sword or pen. 

At a later hour, by the light of a solitary guttering 
candle, in the little cabinet upstairs, I wrote, as best 
I could, an account of the recent fighting and the 
loss of Le Mans ; and early on the following morning 
I prevailed on a railway-man who was going to 
Rennes to post my packet there, in order that it 
might be forwarded to England via Saint Malo. 
The article appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, filling 
a page of that journal, and whatever its imperfections 
may have been, it was undoubtedly the first detailed 
account of the battle of Le Mans, from the French side, 
to appear in the English Press. It so happened, 
indeed, that the other correspondents with the 
French forces, including my cousin Montague 
Vizetelly of The Daily News, lingered at Le Mans 
until it was too late for them to leave the town, the 
Germans having effected their entry. 

German detachments soon started in pursuit of 
the retreating Army of the Loire. Chanzy, as 
previously mentioned, modified his plans, in accord- 
ance with Gambetta's views, on the evening of 
January 12. The new orders were that the 16th 
Army Corps should retreat on Laval by way of 
Chassille and Saint Jean-sur-Erve, that the 17th, 
after passing Conlie, should come down to Sainte 
Suzanne, and that the 21st should proceed from 
Conlie to Sille-le-Guillaume. There were several 
rear-guard engagements during the retreat. Already 
on the 13th, before the 21st Corps could modify its 
original line of march, it had to fight at Ballon, north 


of Le Mans. On the next day one of its detachments, 
composed of 9000 Mobilises of the Mayenne, was 
attacked at Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, and hastily fell 
back, leaving 1400 men in the hands of the Germans, 
who on their side lost only nine! Those French 
soldiers who retreated by way of Conlie partially 
pillaged the abandoned stores there. A battalion 
of Mobiles, on passing that way, provided them- 
selves with new trousers, coats, boots, and blankets, 
besides carrying off a quantity of bread, salt-pork, 
sugar, and other provisions. These things were at 
least saved from the Germans, who on reaching the 
abandoned camp found there a quantity of military 
materiel, five million cartridges, 1500 cases of biscuits 
and extract of meat, 180 barrels of salt-pork, a score 
of sacks of rice, and 140 puncheons of brandy. 

On January 14 the 21st Corps under Jaures 
reached Sille-le-Guillaume, and was there attacked 
by the advanced guard of the 13th German Corps 
under the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg. The French 
offered a good resistance, however, and the Germans 
retreated on Conlie. I myself had managed to leave 
Sille the previous afternoon, but such was the block 
on the line that our train could get no farther than 
Voutre, a village of about a thousand souls. Railway 
travelling seeming an impossibility, I prevailed on 
a farmer to give me a lift as far as Sainte Suzanne, 
whence I hoped to cut across country in the direction 
of Laval. Sainte Suzanne is an ancient and 
picturesque little town which in those days still had 
a rampart and the ruins of an early feudal castle. 
I supped and slept at an inn there, and was told in 
the morning (January 14) that it would be best for 
me to go southward towards Saint Jean-sur-Erve, 
where I should strike the direct highway to Laval, 


and might also be able to procure a conveyance. 
I did not then know the exact retreating orders. I 
hoped to get out of the way of all the troops and 
waggons encumbering the roads, but in this I was 
doomed to disappointment, for at Saint Jean I fell 
in with them again. 

That day a part of the rear-guard of the 16th Corps 
(Jaureguiberry) that is, a detachment of 1100 men 
with a squadron of cavalry under General Le Bouedec 
had been driven out of Chassille by the German 
cavalry under General von Schmidt. This had 
accelerated the French retreat, which continued in 
the greatest confusion, all the men hastening pre- 
cipitately towards Saint Jean, where, after getting 
the bulk of his force on to the heights across the 
river Erve, which here intersects the highway, 
Jaureguiberry resolved on attempting to check the 
enemy's pursuit. Though the condition of most of 
the men was lamentable, vigorous defensive prepa- 
rations were made on the night of the 14th and the 
early morning of the following day. On the low 
ground, near the village and the river, trees were 
felled and roads were barricaded ; while on the 
slopes batteries were disposed behind hedges, in 
which embrasures were cut. The enemy's force was, 
I believe, chiefly composed of cavalry and artillery. 
The latter was already firing at us when Jauregui- 
berry rode along our lines. A shell exploded near 
him, and some splinters of the projectile struck his 
horse in the neck, inflicting a ghastly, gaping wound. 
The poor beast, however, did not fall immediately, 
but galloped on frantically for more than a score 
of yards, then suddenly reared, and after doing so 
came down, all of a heap, upon the snow. However, 
the Admiral, who was a good horseman, speedily 


disengaged himself, and turned to secure another 
mount when he perceived that Colonel Beraud, his 
chief of staff, who had been riding behind him, had 
been wounded by the same shell, and had fallen 
from his horse. I saw the Colonel being carried to 
a neighbouring farmhouse, and was afterwards told 
that he had died there. 

The engagement had no very decisive result, but 
Schmidt fell back to the road connecting Sainte 
Suzanne with Thorigne-en-Charnie, whilst we with- 
drew towards Soulge-le-Bruant, about halfway 
between Saint Jean and Laval. During the fight, 
however, whilst the artillery duel was in progress, 
quite half of Jaureguiberry's men had taken them- 
selves off without waiting for orders. I believe that 
on the night of January 15 he could not have mustered 
more than 7000 men for action. Yet only two days 
previously he had had nearly three times that number 
with him. 

Nevertheless, much might be pleaded for the 
men. The weather was still bitterly cold, snow lay 
everywhere, little or no food could be obtained, the 
commissariat refraining from requisitioning cattle 
at the farms, for all through the departments for 
Mayenne and Ille-et-Vilaine cattle-plague was raging. 
Hungry, emaciated, faint, coughing incessantly, at 
times affected with small-pox, the men limped or 
trudged on despairingly. Their boots were often 
in a most wretched condition ; some wore sabots, 
others, as I said once before, merely had rags around 
their poor frost-bitten feet. And the roads were 
obstructed by guns, vans, waggons, vehicles of all 
kinds. Sometimes an axle had broken, sometimes 
a horse had fallen dead on the snow, in any case one 
or another conveyance had come to a standstill, 


and prevented others from pursuing their route. 
I recollect seeing hungry men cutting steaks from 
the flanks of the dead beasts, sometimes devouring 
the horseflesh raw, at others taking it to some cottage, 
where the avaricious peasants, who refused to part 
with a scrap of food, at least had to let these cold and 
hungry men warm themselves at a fire, and toast 
their horseflesh before it. At one halt three soldiers 
knocked a peasant down because he vowed that he 
could not even give them a pinch of salt. That 
done, they rifled his cupboards and ate all they could 

Experience had taught me a lesson. I had filled 
my pockets with ham, bread, hard-boiled eggs, and 
other things, before leaving Sainte Suzanne. I had 
also obtained a meal at Saint Jean, and secured some 
brandy there, and I ate and drank sparingly and 
surreptitiously whilst I went on, overtaking one 
after another batch of weary soldiers. However, 
the distance between Saint Jean and Laval is not very 
great. Judging by the map, it is a matter of some 
twenty-five miles at the utmost. Moreover, I walked 
only half the distance. The troops moved so slowly 
that I reached Soulge-le-Bruant long before them, 
and there induced a man to drive me to Laval. I 
was there on the afternoon of January 16, and as 
from this point trains were still running west- 
ward, I reached Saint Servan on the following day. 
Thus I slipped through to my goal, thereby 
justifying the nickname of L'Anguille the Eel 
which some of my young French friends had 
bestowed on me. 

A day or two previously my father had returned 
from England, and I found him with my stepmother. 
He became very much interested in my story, and 



talked of going to Laval himself. Further important 
developments might soon occur, the Germans might 
push on to Chanzy's new base, and I felt that I also 
ought to go back. The life I had been leading either 
makes or mars a man physically. Personally, I 
believe that it did me a world of good. At all events, 
it was settled that my father and myself should go 
to Laval together. We started a couple of days later, 
and managed to travel by rail as far as Rennes. But 
from that point to Laval the line was now very badly 
blocked, and so we hired a closed vehicle, a ram- 
shackle affair, drawn by two scraggy Breton nags. 
The main roads, being still crowded with troops, 
artillery, and baggage waggons, and other impedi- 
menta, were often impassable, and so we proceeded 
by devious ways, amidst which our driver lost himself, 
in such wise that at night we had to seek a shelter 
at the famous Chateau des Rochers, immortalized 
by Mme. de Sevigne, and replete with precious 
portraits of herself, her own and her husband's 
families, in addition to a quantity of beautiful furni- 
ture dating from her time. 

It took us, I think, altogether two days to reach 
Laval, where, after securing accommodation at one 
of the hotels, we went out in search of news, having 
heard none since we had started on our journey. 
Perceiving a newspaper shop, we entered it, and my 
father insisted on purchasing a copy of virtually 
every j ournal which was on sale there. Unfortunately 
for us, this seemed highly suspicious to a local 
National Guard who was in the shop, and when we 
left it he followed us. My father had just then 
begun to speak to me in English, and at the sound 
of a foreign tongue the man's suspicions increased. 
So he drew nearer, and demanded to know who and 


what we were. I replied that we were English and 
that I had previously been authorised to accompany 
the army as a newspaper correspondent. My state- 
ments, however, were received with incredulity by 
this suspicious individual, who, after one or two 
further inquiries, requested us to accompany him to 
a guard-house standing near one of the bridges 
thrown over the river Mayenne. 

Thither we went, followed by several people who 
had assembled during our parley, and found ourselves 
before a Lieutenant of Gendarmes, on the charge of 
being German spies. Our denouncer was most posi- 
tive on the point. Had we not bought at least a 
dozen newspapers ? Why a dozen, when sensible 
people would have been satisfied with one ? Such 
extensive purchases must surely have been prompted 
by some sinister motive. Besides, he had heard us 
conversing in German. English, indeed ! No, no ! 
He was certain that we had spoken German, and 
was equally certain of our guilt. 

The Lieutenant looked grave, and my explana- 
tions did not quite satisfy him. The predicament 
was the more awkward as, although my father was 
provided with a British passport, I had somehow 
left my precious military permit at Saint Servan. 
Further, my father carried with him some documents 
which might have been deemed incriminating. They 
were, indeed, safe-conducts signed by various German 
generals, which had been used by us conjointly while 
passing through the German lines after making our 
way out of Paris in November. As for my corre- 
spondent's permit, signed some time previously by 
the Chief of the Staff, I had been unable to find it 
when examining my papers on our way to Laval, but 
had consoled myself with the thought that I might 


get it replaced at headquarters.* Could I have 
shown it to the Lieutenant, he might have ordered 
our release. As it happened, he decided to send 
us to the Provost Marshal. I was not greatly put 
out by that command, for I remembered the officer 
in question, or thought I did, and felt convinced that 
everything would speedily be set right. 

We started off in the charge of a brigadier- 
otherwise a corporal of Gendarmes, and four men, 
our denouncer following closely at our heels. My 
father at once pointed out to me that the brigadier 
and one of the men wore silver medals bearing the 
effigy of Queen Victoria, so I said to the former, " You 
were in the Crimea. You are wearing our Queen's 

" Yes," he replied, " I gained that at the 

" And your comrade ? " 

" He won his at the Tchernaya." 

" I dare say you would have been glad if French 
and English had fought side by side in this war ? " 
I added. " Perhaps they ought to have done so." 

" Parbleu ! The English certainly owed us a bon 
coup de main, instead of which they have only sold 
us broken-down horses and bad boots." 

I agreed that there had been some instances of 
the kind. A few more words passed, and I believe 
that the brigadier became convinced of our English 
nationality. But as his orders were to take us to 
the Provost's, thither we were bound to go. An ever 
increasing crowd followed. Shopkeepers and other 
folk came to their doors and windows, and the words, 

* The red-cross armlet which had repeatedly proved so useful to rne, 
enabling me to come and go without much interference, was at our hotel, 
in a bag we had brought with us. 


" They are spies, German spies ! " rang out repeatedly, 
exciting the crowd and rendering it more and more 
hostile. For a while we followed a quay with 
granite parapets, below which flowed the Mayenne, 
laden with drifting ice. All at once, however, I 
perceived on our left a large square, where about a 
hundred men of the Laval National Guard were 
being exercised. They saw us appear with our escort, 
they saw the crowd which followed us, and they 
heard the cries, " Spies ! German spies ! " Forth- 
with, with that disregard for discipline which among 
the French was so characteristic of the period, they 
broke their ranks and ran towards us. 

We were only able to take a few more steps. In 
vain did the Gendarmes try to force a way through 
the excited mob. We were surrounded by angry, 
scowling, vociferating men. Imprecations burst 
forth, fists were clenched, arms were waved, rifles 
were shaken, the unruly National Guards being the 
most eager of all to denounce and threaten us. 
" Down with the spies ! " they shouted. " Down 
with the German pigs ! Give them to us ! Let us 
shoot them ! " 

A very threatening rush ensued, and I was almost 
carried off my feet. But in another moment I found 
myself against the parapet of the quay, with my 
father beside me, and the icy river in the rear. In 
front of us stood the brigadier and his four men 
guarding us from the angry citizens of Laval. 

" Hand them over to us ! We will settle their 
affair," shouted an excited National Guard. " You 
know that they are spies, brigadier." 

" I know that I have my orders," growled the 
veteran. " I am taking them to the Provost. It is 
for him to decide." 


" That is too much ceremony," was the retort. 
" Let us shoot them ! " 

" But they are not worth a cartridge ! " shouted 
another man. " Throw them into the river ! " 

That ominous cry was taken up. " Yes, yes, to 
the river with them ! " Then came another rush, 
one so extremely violent that our case seemed 

But the brigadier and his men had managed to fix 
bayonets during the brief parley, and on the mob 
being confronted by five blades of glistening steel, its 
savage eagerness abated. Moreover, the old brigadier 
behaved magnificently. " Keep back ! " cried he. 
" I have my orders. You will have to settle me 
before you take my prisoners ! " 

Just then I caught the eye of one of the National 
Guards, who was shaking his fist at us, and I said to 
him, " You are quite mistaken. We are not 
Germans, but English ! " 

" Yes, yes, Anglais, Anglais ! " my father 

While some of the men in the crowd were more or 
less incredulously repeating that statement, a black- 
bearded individual whom I can, at this very 
moment, still picture with my mind's eye, so vividly 
did the affair impress me climbed on to the parapet 
near us, and called out, " You say you are English ? 
Do you know London ? Do you know Kegent Street? 
Do you know the Soho ? " 

' Yes, yes ! " we answered quickly. 
8 You know the Lei-ces-terre Square ? What 
name is the music-hall there ? " 

" Why, the Alhambra ! " The " Empire," let 
me add, did not exist in those days. 

The man seemed satisfied. " I think they are 


English," he said to his friends. But somebody else 
exclaimed, " I don't believe it. One of them is 
wearing a German hat." 

Now, it happened that my father had returned 
from London wearing a felt hat of a shape which 
was then somewhat fashionable there, and which, 
curiously enough, was called the " Crown Prince," 
after the heir to the Prussian throne that is, our 
Princess Royal's husband, subsequently the Emperor 
Frederick. The National Guard, who spoke a little 
English, wished to inspect this incriminating hat, so 
my father took it off, and one of the Gendarmes, 
having placed it on his bayonet, passed it to the 
man on the parapet. When the latter had read 
" Christy, London," on the lining, he once more 
testified in our favour. 

But other fellows also wished to examine the 
suspicious headgear, and it passed from hand to hand 
before it was returned to my father in a more or less 
damaged condition. Even then a good many men 
were not satisfied respecting our nationality, but 
during that incident of the hat a laughable one to 
me nowadays, though everything looked very ugly 
when it occurred there had been time for the men's 
angry passions to cool, to a considerable extent at all 
events ; and after that serio-comical interlude, they 
were much less eager to inflict on us the summary 
law of Lynch. A further parley ensued, and eventu- 
ally the Gendarmes, who still stood with bayonets 
crossed in front of us, were authorized, by decision 
of the Sovereign People, to take us to the Provost's. 
Thither we went, then, amidst a perfect procession 
of watchful guards and civilians. 

Directly we appeared before the Provost, I 
realized that our troubles were not yet over. Some 


changes had taken place during the retreat, and 
either the officer whom I remembered having seen at 
Le Mans (that is, Colonel Mora) had been replaced by 
another, or else the one before whom we now appeared 
was not the Provost-General, but only the Provost of 
the 16th Corps. At all events, he was a complete 
stranger to me. After hearing, first, the statements 
of the brigadier and the National Guard who had 
denounced us, and who had kept close to us all the 
time, and, secondly, the explanations supplied by 
my father and myself, he said to me, " If you had 
a staff permit to follow the army, somebody at head- 
quarters must be able to identify you." 

" I think that might be done," I answered, " by 
Major-General Feilding, who as you must know 
accompanies the army on behalf of the British 
Government. Personally, I am known to several 
officers of the 21st Corps General Gougeard and 
his Chief of Staff, for instance and also to some of 
the aides-de-camp at headquarters." 

" Well, get yourselves identified, and obtain a 
proper safe-conduct," said the Provost. " Brigadier, 
you are to take these men to headquarters. If they 
are identified there, you will let them go. If not, 
take them to the chateau (the prison), and report 
to me." 

Again we all set out, this time climbing the hilly 
ill-paved streets of old Laval, above which the 
town's great feudal castle reared its dark, round 
keep ; and presently we came to the local college, 
formerly an Ursuline convent, where Chanzy had 
fixed his headquarters. 

In one of the large class-rooms were several 
officers, one of whom immediately recognized me. 
He laughed when he heard our story. " I was 


arrested myself, the other day," he said, " because I 
was heard speaking in English to your General 
Feilding. And yet I was in uniform, as I am now." 

The Gendarmes were promptly dismissed, though 
not before my father had slipped something into the 
hand of the old brigadier for himself and his com- 
rades. Their firmness had saved us, for when a 
mob's passions are inflamed by patriotic zeal, the 
worst may happen to the objects of its wrath. 

A proper safe-conduct (which I still possess) was 
prepared by an aide-de-camp on duty, and whilst 
he was drafting it, an elderly but bright-eyed officer 
entered, and went up to a large circular stove to 
warm himself. Three small stars still glittered 
faintly on his faded cap, and six rows of narrow 
tarnished gold braid ornamented the sleeves of his 
somewhat shabby dolman. It was Chanzy himself. 

He noticed our presence, and our case was 
explained to him. Looking at me keenly, he said, 
" I think I have seen you before. You are the 
young English correspondent who was allowed to 
make some sketches at Yvre-1'Eveque, are you not ? " 

" Yes, mon general" I answered, saluting. " You 
gave me permission through, I think, Monsieur le 
Commandant de Boisdefrre." 

He nodded pleasantly as we withdrew, then 
lapsed into a thoughtful attitude. 

Out we went, down through old Laval and 
towards the new town, my father carrying the safe- 
conduct in his hand. The Gendarmes must have 
already told people that we were " all right," for we 
now encountered only pleasant faces. Neverthe- 
less, we handed the safe-conduct to one party of 
National Guards for their inspection, in order that 
their minds might be quite at rest. That occurred 


outside the hospital, where at that moment I little 
imagined that a young Englishman a volunteer 
in the Sixth Battalion of the C6tes-du-Nord Mobile 
Guards (21st Army Corps) was lying invalided by a 
chill, which he had caught during an ascent in our 
army balloon with Gaston Tissandier. Since then 
that young Englishman has become famous as Field- 
Marshal Viscount Kitchener of Khartoum. 

But the National Guards insisted on carrying my 
father and myself to the chief cafe of Laval. They 
would take no refusal. In genuine French fashion, 
they were all anxiety to offer some amends for their 
misplaced patriotic impulsiveness that afternoon, 
when they had threatened, first, to shoot, and, next, 
to drown us. In lieu thereof they now deluged us 
with punch a la franpaise, and as the cafe soon became 
crowded with other folk who all joined our party, 
there ensued a scene which almost suggested that 
some glorious victory had been gained at last by 
invaded and unfortunate France. 



Battues for Deserters End of the Operations against Chanzy Faid- 
herbe's Battles Bourbaki's alleged Victories and Retreat The 
Position in Paris The terrible Death Rate State of the Paris Army 
The Sanguinary Buzenval Sortie Towards Capitulation The 
German Conditions The Armistice Provisions Bourbaki's Disaster 
Could the War have been prolonged ? The Resources of France 
The general Weariness I return to Paris The Elections for a 
National Assembly The Negotiations The State of Paris The 
Preliminaries of Peace The Triumphal Entry of the Germans 
The War's Aftermath. 

WE remained for a few days longer at Laval, and 
were not again interfered with, there. A painful 
interest attached to one sight which we witnessed 
more than once. It was that of the many processions 
of deserters whom the horse Gendarmerie of the 
headquarters staff frequently brought into the town. 
The whole region was scoured for runaways, many 
of whom were found in the villages and at lonely 
farms. They had generally cast off their uniform 
and put on blouses, but the peasantry frequently 
betrayed them, particularly as they seldom, if ever, 
had any money to spend in bribes. Apart from those 
battues and the measures of all kinds which Chanzy 
took to reorganise his army, little of immediate import 
occurred at Laval. Gambetta had been there, and 
had then departed for Lille in order to ascertain the 



condition of Faidherbe's Army of the North. The 
German pursuit of Chanzy's forces ceased virtually 
at Saint Jean-sur-Erve. There was just another 
little skirmish at Sainte Melaine, but that was all.* 
Accordingly my father and I returned to Saint 
Servan, and, having conjointly prepared some articles 
on Chanzy's retreat and present circumstances, 
forwarded them to London for the Pall Mall 

The war was now fast drawing to an end. I 
have hitherto left several important occurrences 
unmentioned, being unwilling to interrupt my narra- 
tive of the fighting at Le Mans and the subsequent 
retreat. I feel, however, that I now ought to glance 
at the state of affairs in other parts of France. I 
have just mentioned that after visiting Chanzy at 
Laval (January 19), Gambetta repaired to Lille to 
confer with Faidherbe. Let us see, then, what the 
latter general had been doing. He was no longer 
opposed by Manteuffel, who had been sent to the 
east of France in the hope that he would deal more 
effectually than Werder with Bourbaki's army, which 
was still in the field there. ManteuffePs successor 
in the north was General von Goeben, with whom, 
on January 18, Faidherbe fought an engagement at 
Vermand, followed on the morrow by the battle of 
Saint Quentin, which was waged for seven hours 
amidst thaw and fog. Though it was claimed as a 
French victory, it was not one. The Germans, it 
is true, lost 2500 men, but the French killed and 
wounded amounted to 3500, and there were thousands 

* I should add that on January 17 the Germans under Mecklenburg 
secured possession of Alen9on (Chanzy's original objective) after an in- 
effectual resistance offered by the troops under Commandant Lipowski, 
who was seconded in his endeavours by young M. Antonin Dubost, then 
Prefect of the Orne, and recently President of the French Senate. 


of men missing, the Germans taking some 5000 
prisoners, whilst other troops disbanded much as 
Chanzy's men disbanded during his retreat. From 
a strategical point of view the action at Saint Quentin 
was indecisive. 

Turning to eastern France, Bourbaki fought two 
indecisive engagements near Villersexel, south-east 
of Vesoul, on January 9 and 10, and claimed the 
victory on these occasions. On January 13 came 
another engagement at Arcey, which he also claimed 
as a success, being congratulated upon it by Gam- 
betta. The weather was most severe in the region 
of his operations, and the sufferings of his men were 
quite as great as if not greater than those of 
Chanzy's troops. There were nights when men lay 
down to sleep, and never awoke again. On January 
15, 16, and 17 there was a succession of engagements 
on the Lisaine, known collectively as the battle of 
Hericourt. These actions resulted in Bourbaki's 
retreat southward towards Besancon, where for the 
moment we will leave him, in order to consider the 
position of Paris at this juncture. 

Since the beginning of the year, the day of the 
capital's surrender had been fast approaching. Paris 
actually fell because its supply of food was 
virtually exhausted. On January 18 it became 
necessary to ration the bread, now a dark, sticky 
compound, which included such ingredients as bran, 
starch, rice, barley, vermicelli, and pea-flour. About 
ten ounces was allotted per diem to each adult, 
children under five years of age receiving half that 
quantity. But the health-bill of the city was also 
a contributory cause of the capitulation. In 
November there were 7444 deaths among the non- 
combatant population, against 3863 in November, 


1869. The death-roll of December rose to 10,665, 
against 4214 in December the previous year. In 
January, between sixty and seventy persons died 
from small-pox every day. Bronchitis and pneumonia 
made an ever-increasing number of victims. From 
January 14 to January 21 the mortality rose to no 
less than 4465 ; from the latter date until January 28, 
the day of the capitulation, the figures were 4671, 
whereas in normal times they had never been more 
than 1000 in any week. 

Among the troops the position was going from 
bad to worse. Thousands of men were in the 
hospitals, and thousands contrived to desert and 
hide themselves in the city. Out of 100,705 Lines- 
men, there were, on January 1, no fewer than 23,938 
absentees ; while 23,565 units were absent from the 
Mobile Guard, which, on paper, numbered 111,999. 
Briefly, one man out of every five was either a 
patient or a deserter. As for the German bombard- 
ment, this had some moral but very little material 
effect. Apart from the damage done to buildings, 
it killed (as I previously said) about one hundred 
and wounded about two hundred persons. 

The Government now had little if any confidence 
in the utility of any further sorties. Nevertheless, 
as the extremist newspapers still clamoured for one, 
it was eventually decided to attack the German 
positions across the Seine, on the west of the city. 
This sortie, commonly called that of Buzenval, took 
place on January 19, the day after King William of 
Prussia had been proclaimed German Emperor in 
Louis XIV's "Hall of Mirrors" at Versailles.* 
Without doubt, the Buzenval sortie was devised 

* The decision to raise the King to the imperial dignity had been 
arrived at on January 1. 


chiefly in order to give the National Guard the con- 
stantly demanded opportunity and satisfaction of 
being led against the Germans. Trochu, who assumed 
chief command, establishing himself at the fort of 
Mont Valerien, divided his forces into three columns, 
led by Generals Vinoy, Bellemare, and Ducrot. The 
first (the left wing) comprised 22,000 men, including 
8000 National Guards ; the second (the central 
column) 34,500 men, including 16,000 Guards ; and 
the third (the right wing) 33,500 men, among whom 
were no fewer than 18,000 Guards. Thus the total 
force was about 90,000, the National Guards repre- 
senting about a third of that number. Each column 
had with it ten batteries, representing for the entire 
force 180 guns. The French front, however, extended 
over a distance of nearly four miles, and the army's 
real strength was thereby diminished. There was 
some fairly desperate fighting at Saint Cloud, 
Montretout, and Longboyau, but the French were 
driven back after losing 4000 men, mostly National 
Guards, whereas the German losses were only about 
six hundred. 

The affair caused consternation in Paris, particu- 
larly as several prominent men had fallen in the ranks 
of the National Guard. On the night of January 21, 
some extremists forced their way into the prison of 
Mazas and delivered some of their friends who had 
been shut up there since the rising of October 31. On 
the morrow, January 22, there was a demonstration 
and an affray on the Place de FHotel de Ville, shots 
being exchanged with the result that people were 
killed and wounded. The Government gained the 
day, however, and retaliated by closing the revolu- 
tionary clubs and suppressing some extremist news- 
papers. But four hours later Trochu resigned his 


position as Military Governor of Paris (in which he 
was replaced by General Vinoy), only retaining the 
Presidency of the Government. Another import- 
ant incident had occurred on the very evening 
after the insurrection : Jules Favre, the Foreign 
Minister, had then forwarded a letter to Prince 

The Government's first idea had been merely to 
surrender that is to open the city-gates and let the 
Germans enter at their peril. It did not wish to 
negotiate or sign any capitulation. Jules Favre 
indicated as much when writing to Bismarck, and 
certainly the proposed course might have placed the 
Germans with the eyes of the world fixed upon them 
in a difficult position. But Favre was no match 
for the great Prussian statesman. Formal negotia- 
tions were soon opened, and Bismarck so contrived 
affairs that, as Gambetta subsequently and rightly 
complained, the convention which Favre signed 
applied far more to France as a whole than to Paris 
itself. In regard to the city, the chief conditions 
were that a war indemnity of 8,000,000 should be 
paid ; that the forts round the city should be 
occupied by the Germans ; that the garrison Line, 
Mobile Guard, and Naval Contingent (altogether about 
180,000 men) should become prisoners of war ; 
and that the armament (1500 fortress guns and 400 
field pieces) should be surrendered, as well as the 
large stores of ammunition. On the other hand, a 
force of 12,000 men was left to the French Govern- 
ment for " police duty " in the city, and the National 
Guards were, at Favre's urgent but foolish request, 
allowed to retain their arms. Further, the city was 
to be provisioned. In regard to France generally, 
arrangements were made for an armistice of twenty- 


one days' duration, in order to allow of the election 
of a National Assembly to treat for peace. In these 
arrangements Favre and Vinoy (the new Governor 
of Paris) were out-jockeyed by Bismarck and Moltke. 
They were largely ignorant of the real position in the 
provinces, and consented to very disadvantageous 
terms in regard to the lines which the Germans and 
the French should respectively occupy during the 
armistice period. Moreover, although it was agreed 
that hostilities should cease on most points, no such 
stipulation was made respecting the east of France, 
where both Bourbaki and Garibaldi were in the 

The latter had achieved some slight successes 
near Dijon on January 21 and 23, but on February 1 
that is, two days after the signing of the armistice 
the Garibaldians were once more driven out of the 
Burgundian capital. That, however, was as nothing 
in comparison with what befell Bourbaki's unfortu- 
nate army. Manteuffel having compelled it to 
retreat from Besan9on to Pontarlier, it was next 
forced to withdraw into Switzerland * (neutral terri- 
tory, where it was necessarily disarmed by the Swiss 
authorities) in order to escape either capture or 
annihilation by the Germans. The latter took 
some 6000 prisoners, before the other men (about 
80,000 in number) succeeded in crossing the Swiss 
frontier. A portion of the army was saved, however, 
by General Billot. With regard to the position 
elsewhere, Longwy, I should mention, surrendered 
three days before the capitulation of Paris ; but 
Belfort prolonged its resistance until February 
13, when all other hostilities had ceased. Its 

* Before this happened, Bourbaki attempted his life, 



garrison, so gallantly commanded by Colonel Denf ert- 
Rochereau, was accorded the honours of war. 

As I wrote in my book, " Republican France," the 
country generally was weary of the long struggle; 
and only Gambetta, Freycinet, and a few military 
men, such as Chanzy and Faidherbe, were in favour 
of prolonging it. From the declaration of war on 
July 15 to the capitulation of Paris and the armistice 
on January 28, the contest had lasted twenty-eight 
weeks. Seven of those weeks had sufficed to over- 
throw the Second Empire ; but only after another 
one-and-twenty weeks had the Third Republic laid 
down her arms. Whatever may have been the 
blunders of the National Defence, it at least saved 
the honour of France. 

It may well be doubted whether the position 
could have been retrieved had the war been prolonged, 
though undoubtedly the country was still possessed 
of many resources. In " Republican France," I 
gave a number of figures which showed that over 
600,000 men could have been brought into action 
almost immediately, and that another 260,000 could 
afterwards have been provided. On February 8, 
when Chanzy had largely reorganized his army, he, 
alone, had under his orders 4952 officers and 227,361 
men, with 430 guns. That careful and distinguished 
French military historian, M. Pierre Lehautcourt, 
places, however, the other resources of France at 
even a higher figure than I did. He also points out, 
rightly enough, that although so large a part of 
France was invaded, the uninvaded territory was of 
greater extent, and inhabited by twenty-five millions 
of people. He estimates the total available artillery 
on the French side at 1232 guns, each with an average 
allowance of 242 projectiles. In addition, there 


were 443 guns awaiting projectiles. He tells us that 
the French ordnance factories were at this period 
turning out on an average 25,000 chassepots every 
month, and delivering two million cartridges every 
day ; whilst other large supplies of weapons and 
ammunition were constantly arriving from abroad. 
On the other hand, there was certainly a scarcity 
of horses, the mortality of which in this war, as hi 
all others, was very great. Chanzy only disposed of 
20,000, and the remount service could only supply 
another 12,000. However, additional animals might 
doubtless have been found in various parts of France, 
or procured from abroad. 

But material resources, however great they may 
be, are of little avail when a nation has practically 
lost heart. In spite, moreover, of all the efforts of 
commanding officers, insubordination was rampant 
among the troops in the field. There had been so 
many defeats, so many retreats, that they had lost 
all confidence in their generals. During the period 
of the armistice, desertions were still numerous. I 
may add, that if at the expiration of the armistice 
the struggle had been renewed, Chanzy's plan 
which received approval at a secret military and 
Government council held in Paris, whither he 
repaired early in February was to place General 
de Colomb at the head of a strong force for the 
defence of Brittany, whilst he, Chanzy, would, with 
his own army, cross the Loire and defend southern 

Directly news arrived that an armistice had been 
signed, and that Paris was once more open, my 
father arranged to return there, accompanied by 
myself and my younger brother, Arthur Vizetelly. 
We took with us, I remember, a plentiful supply of 


poultry and other edibles for distribution among 
the friends who had been suffering from the scarcity 
of provisions during the latter days of the siege. The 
elections for the new National Assembly were just 
over, nearly all of the forty-three deputies returned 
for Paris being Republicans, though throughout the 
rest of France Legitimist and Orleanist candidates 
were generally successful. I remember that just 
before I left Saint Servan one of our tradesmen, an 
enthusiastic Royalist, said to me, "We shall have 
a King on the throne by the time you come back 
to see us in the summer." At that moment it 
certainly seemed as if such would be the case. As 
for the Empire, one could only regard it as dead. 
There were, I think, merely five recognized Bona- 
partist members in the whole of the new National 
Assembly, and most of them came from Corsica. 
Thus, it was by an almost unanimous vote that the 
Assembly declared Napoleon III and his dynasty 
to be responsible for the "invasion, ruin, and dis- 
memberment of France." 

The Assembly having called Thiers to the position 
of " Chief of the Executive Power," peace negotiations 
ensued between him and Bismarck. They began on 
February 22, Thiers being assisted by Jules Favre, 
who retained the position of Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, mainly because nobody else would take 
it and append his signature to a treaty which was 
bound to be disastrous for the country. The chief 
conditions of that treaty will be remembered. 
Germany was to annex Alsace-Lorraine, to receive 
a war indemnity of two hundred million pounds 
sterling (with interest in addition), and secure 
commercially " most favoured nation " treatment 
from France. The preliminaries were signed on 


February 26, and accepted by the National Assembly 
on March 1, but the actual treaty of Frankfort was 
not signed and ratified until the ensuing month of 

Paris presented a sorry spectacle during the weeks 
which followed the armistice. There was no work 
for the thousands of artisans who had become 
National Guards during the siege. Their allowance 
as such was prolonged in order that they might at 
least have some means of subsistence. But the 
unrest was general. By the side of the universal 
hatred of the Germans, which was displayed on all 
sides, even finding vent in the notices set up in the 
shop-windows to the effect that no Germans need 
apply there, one observed a very bitter feeling towards 
the new Government. Thiers had been an Orleanist 
all his life, and among the Paris working-classes there 
was a general feeling that the National Assembly 
would give France a king. This feeling tended to 
bring about the subsequent bloody Insurrection of 
the Commune ; but, as I wrote in " Republican 
France," it was precisely the Commune which gave 
the French Royalists a chance. It placed a weapon 
in their hands and enabled them to say, " You see, 
by that insurrection, by all those terrible excesses, 
what a Republic implies. Order, quietude, fruitful 
work, are only possible under a monarchy." As 
we know, however, the efforts of the Royalists 
were defeated, in part by the obstinacy of 
their candidate, the Comte de Chambord, and 
in part by the good behaviour of the Republicans 
generally, as counselled both by Thiers and by 

On March 1, the very day when the National 
Assembly ratified the preliminaries of peace at 


Bordeaux, the Germans made their triumphal entry 
into Paris. Four or five days previously my father 
had sent me on a special mission to Bordeaux, and 
it was then that after long years I again set eyes on 
Garibaldi, who had been elected as a French deputy, 
but who resigned his seat in .consequence of the 
onerous terms of peace. Others, notably Gambetta, 
did precisely the same, by way of protesting against 
the so-called " Devil's Treaty." However, I was 
back in Paris in time to witness the German entry 
into the city. My father, my brother Arthur, and 
myself were together in the Champs Elysees on that 
historical occasion. I have related elsewhere * how 
a number of women of the Paris Boulevards were 
whipped in the Champs Elysees shrubberies by young 
roughs, who, not unnaturally, resented the shameless 
overtures made by these women to the German 
soldiery. There were, however, some unfortunate 
mistakes that day, as, for instance, when an attempt 
was made to ill-treat an elderly lady who merely 
spoke to the Germans in the hope of obtaining some 
information respecting her son, then still a prisoner 
of war. I remember also that Archibald Forbes 
was knocked down and kicked for returning the 
salute of the Crown Prince of Saxony. Some of the 
English correspondents who hurried to the scene 
removed Forbes to a little hotel hi the Faubourg 
St. Honore, for he had really been hurt by that 
savage assault, though it did not prevent him from 
penning a graphic account of what he witnessed 
on that momentous day. 

The German entry was, on the whole, fairly 
imposing as a military display ; but the stage- 
management was very bad, and one could not imagine 

* In "Republican France." 


that Napoleon's entry into Berlin had in any way 
resembled it. Nor could it be said to have equalled 
the entry of the Allied Sovereigns into Paris in 1814. 
German princelings in basket-carriages drawn by 
ponies did not add to the dignity of the spectacle. 
Moreover, both the Crown Prince of Saxony and the 
Crown Prince of Germany (Emperor Frederick) 
attended it in virtually an incognito manner. As for 
the Emperor William, his councillors dissuaded him 
from entering the city for fear lest there should be 
trouble there. I believe also that neither Bismarck 
nor Moltke attended, though, like the Emperor, they 
both witnessed the preliminary review of troops in 
the Bois de Boulogne. The German occupation was 
limited to the Champs Elysees quarter, and on the 
first day the Parisians generally abstained from 
going there ; but on the morrow when news that 
the preliminaries of peace had been accepted at 
Bordeaux had reached the capital they flocked to 
gaze upon nos amis les ennemis, and greatly enjoyed, 
I believe, the lively music played by the German 
regimental bands. " Music hath charms," as we 
are all aware. The departure of the German troops 
on the ensuing evening was of a much more spec- 
tacular character than their entry had been. As with 
their bands playing, whilst they themselves sang 
the " Wacht am Ehein " in chorus, they marched up 
the Champs Elysees on their way back to Versailles, 
those of their comrades who were still billeted in the 
houses came to the balconies with as many lighted 
candles as they could carry. Bivouac fires, more- 
over, were burning brightly here and there, and the 
whole animated scene, with its play of light and shade 
under the dark March sky, was one to be long re- 


The Franco-German War was over, and a new 
era had begun for Europe. The balance of power 
was largely transferred. France had again ceased to 
be the predominant continental state. She had at- 
tained to that position for a time under Louis XIV, 
and later, more conspicuously, under Napoleon I. 
But in both of those instances vaulting ambition 
had o'er-leapt itself. The purposes of Napoleon III 
were less far-reaching. Such ideas of aggrandisement 
as he entertained were largely subordinated to his 
desire to consolidate the regime he had revived, and 
to ensure the continuity of his dynasty. But the 
very principle of nationality which he more than 
once expounded, and which he championed in the 
case of Italy, brought about his ruin. He gave 
Italy Venetia, but refused her Rome, and thereby 
alienated her. Further, the consolidation of Germany 
from his own nationalist point of view became a 
threat to French interests. Thus he was hoist 
chiefly by his own petard, and France paid the 
penalty for his errors. 

The Franco-German War was over, I have said, 
but there came a terrible aftermath that is, the rising 
of the Commune, some of the introductory features 
of which were described by me in " Republican 
France." There is only one fairly good history 
of that formidable insurrection hi the English 
language one written some years ago by Mr. 
Thomas March. It is, however, a history from the 
official standpoint, and is consequently one-sided as 
well as inaccurate in certain respects. Again, the 
English version of the History of the Commune put 
together by one of its partisans, Lissagaray, sins 
in the other direction. An impartial account of the 
rising remains to be written. If I am spared I may, 


perhaps, be privileged to contribute to it by pre- 
paring a work on much the same lines as those of 
this present volume. Not only do I possess the 
greater part of the literature on the subject, including 
many of the newspapers of the time, but throughout 
the insurrection I was in Paris or its suburbs. 

I sketched the dead bodies of Generals Clement 
Thomas and Lecomte only a few hours after their 
assassination. I saw the Vendome column fall 
while American visitors to Paris were singing, " Hail, 
Columbia ! " in the hotels of the Rue de la Paix. I 
was under fire in the same street when a demonstra- 
tion was made there. Provided with passports by 
both sides, I went in and out of the city and witnessed 
the fighting at Asnieres and elsewhere. I attended 
the clubs held in the churches, when women often 
perorated from the pulpits. I saw Thiers's house 
being demolished ; and when the end came and the 
Versailles troops made their entry into the city, I 
was repeatedly in the street-fighting with my good 
friend, Captain Bingham. I recollect sketching the 
attack on the Elysee Palace from a balcony of our 
house, and finding that balcony on the pavement 
a few hours later when it had been carried away by 
a shell from a Communard battery at Montmartre. 
Finally, I saw Paris burning. I gazed on the sheaves 
of flames rising above the Tuileries. I saw the whole 
front of the Ministry of Finances fall into the Rue 
de Rivoli. I saw the now vanished Carrefour de la 
Croix Rouge one blaze of fire. I helped to carry 
water to put out the conflagration at the Palais de 
Justice. I was prodded with a bayonet when, after 
working in that manner for some hours, I attempted 
to shirk duty at another fire which I came upon in 
the course of my expeditions. All that period of 


my life flashes on my mind as vividly as Paris herself 
flashed under the wondering stars of those balmy 
nights in May. 

My father and my brother Arthur also had some 
remarkable adventures. There was one occasion 
when they persuaded a venturesome Paris cabman 
to drive them from conflagration to conflagration, 
and this whilst the street-fighting was still in pro- 
gress. Every now and then, as they drove on, men 
and women ran eagerly out of houses into which 
wounded combatants had been taken, imagining 
that they must belong to the medical profession, 
as nobody else was likely to go about Paris in such 
a fashion at such a moment. Those good folk forgot 
the journalists. The service of the Press carries 
with it obligations which must not be shirked. 
Journalism has become, not merely the chronicle of 
the day, but the foundation of history. And now 
I know not if I should say farewell or au revoir to 
my readers. Whether I ever attempt a detailed 
account of the Commune of Paris must depend on 
a variety of circumstances. After three-and-forty 
years " at the mill," I am inclined to feel tired, and 
with me health is not what it has been. Nevertheless, 
my plans must depend chiefly on the reception given 
to this present volume. 


ADAM, Edmond, 151 

Adare, Lord, 184, 187 

Albert, Archduke, 37 

Albert, Prince (the elder), of Prussia, 

Alengon taken, 316 

Alexander II of Russia, 16 

Alexandra, Queen, 11, 12 

Allix, Jules, 134, 135 

Amazons of Paris, 134 ct seq. 

Ambert, General, 99 

Ambulances, Anglo -American, 63 
et seq. ; at Conlie, 233 ; at Le 
Mans, 286, 287; author's im- 
pression of, 297 

Amiens, 228, 251, 252 

Arabs with Chanzy, 266, 276 

Arago, Emmanuel, 86, 150; Etienne, 
87, 131, 144 

Ardenay, 269, 273 

Armistice, conditions for an, 110, 
147, 152 ; concluded, 320, 321 

Army, French, under the Empire, 
27, 28, 38, 39 ; of Paris, 87, 88, 
237 see also Paris ; of Brittany, 
231 et seq., 235, 240, 274 ; at the 
outset of National Defence, 214 ; 
of the Vosges, 216 et seq. see also 
Garibaldi ; of the East, 218 see 
also Bourbaki ; of the Loire, 255 
see also D'Aurelle, Coulmiers, 
Chanzy, Le Mans, etc. ; of the 
North, see Faidherbe ; at the end 
of war, 322, 232; for German 
army see German and names of 

Arnim, Count von, 287 

Artists, French newspaper, 16, 17 

Assembly, see National. 

Aurelle, see D'Aurelle. 

Auvours plateau (Le Mans), 261, 
262, 268, 275, 276, 277 

BALLOON service from Paris, 14, 
117 et seq. 

Bapaume, battle of, 254 

Barry, General, 263, 267, 268, 269, 

272, 273, 275, 281, 282 
Battues for deserters, 315 
Bazaine, Marshal, 35, 43, 60, 67, 

146 ct seq., 219 
Beauce country, 210, 211 
Beaumont, fight at, 302 
Beaune-la-Rolande, battle of, 238, 


Belfort, siege of, 253, 321, 322 
Bellemare, General Carr6 de, 146, 

148, 319 

Bellenger, Marguerite, 100 
Belly, Felix, 136 et seq. 
Beraud, Colonel, 304 
Bernard, Colonel, 240, 245, 247 
Berezowski, 16 
Beuvron, Abb6 de, 266 
Billot, General, 238, 321 
Bingham, Captain Hon. D. A., 32, 

57, 66, 73, 329 
Bismarck, Prince, 25, 26, 36, 37, 63, 

100, 109, 110, 128, 152, 164, 195, 

221, 320, 321, 324 
Blanc, Louis, 88, 150 
Blanchard, P., 156, 157 
Blanqui, Auguste, 100, 142, 144, 151 
Blewitt, Dr. Byron, 63, 64 
Boisdeffre, Captain, later General 

de, 255, 256, 266 
Bonaparte, Lycee, see Lyc6e. 
Bonaparte, Prince Pierre, 31. See 

also Napoleon. 
Bonnemains, General de, 48 
Boots, army, 238, 243, 249, 250 
Bordone, General, 217 
Borel, General, 225 
Boulanger, General, his mistress, 48 
Bourbaki, General Charles, 43, 146, 

227, 228, 238, 239, 243, 253, 254, 

255, 274, 316, 317, 321 
Bourbon, Palais, see Legislative 

Bourdillon, General, 266, 284 



Bourges, 209, 210, 211, 254 
Bourget, Le, 146, 148, 253 
Bower, Mr., 130 
Bowles, T. Gibson, 130 
Brie-Comte-Robert, 172 et seq. 
Brownings, the, 185 
Bulwer, Sir E., 185 

, E. and J., 285 
Cambriels, General, 214, 216 et aeq., 


Canrobert, Marshal, 43 
Capitulations, see Amiens, Belfort, 

Longwy, Metz, Paris, Sedan, 

Strasbourg, Toul, etc. 
Capoul, Victor, 49, 50 
Caricatures of the period, 85, 92, 

127, 128, 129, 138 
Casimir-Perier, J. P., 140 
Cathelineau, Colonel, 218 
Chabaud-Latour, General, 222 
Challemel-Lacour, 212 
Cham (M. de Noe), 127, 128, 131 
Chambord, Comte de, 325 
Champagn6, fighting at, 261, 273, 


Champigny, sortie of, 237 
Change, fighting at, 273, 278 
Chanzy, General Alfred, his early 

career and appearance, 264, 265 ; 

his orders and operations with 

the Loire forces, 224, 237, 239, 

240, 242, 243, 251, 254, 255 et seq., 

261, 267 et seq., 270, 274, 275, 

282, 292, 301, 313, 315, 316, 322, 


Charette, General Baron, 277 
Chartres, 210, 211, 230, 255 
" Chartreuse de Panne, La," 293 
Chassille, fight at, 303 
Chateaubriand, Count and Countess 

de, 21 
Chateaudun, fight at, 145, 211, 215, 


Chatillon, fight at, 101 et seq. 
Chemin des Boeufs (Le Mans), 262, 

275, 278, 283, 284 
" Claque," the, 18, 19 
Claremont, Colonel, 95, 162, 168 
Clocks, German love of, 93, 109 
Clubs, Paris, social, 65 ; revolution- 

ary, 100, 134 et seq., 329 
Colin, General, 236, 269 
Collins, Mortimer, 40 
Colomb, General de, 262, 263, 268, 

275, 277, 325 
Colomb, General von, 263 
Commune of Paris, attempts to set 

up a, 143, 144, 149, 150 ; rising 

of the, 325, 328 et seq. 
Conde, Prince de, 207 
Conlie, camp of, 205, 231 et seq., 

274, 300 et seq. 
Connerre, 247, 269 
Corbeil, Germans at, 177 et seq. 
Correspondents, English, in Paris, 

56 et seq. 
Coulmiers, battle of, 188, 222, 224, 


Couriers from Paris, 114 et seq. 
Cousin-Montauban, see Palikao. 
Cowardice and panic, cases of, 102, 

103, 245, 246, 258, 280, 281, 294, 


Crane, Stephen, 293 
Cremer, General, 226, 253 
Cremieux, Adolphe, 86, 95, 206, 207, 


Crouzat, General, 225, 227, 238 
Crown Prince of Prussia (Emperor 

Frederick), 47, 114, 183, 215, 327 
Curten, General, 263, 267 et seq., 

272 et seq. 

Doily News, 217, 223, 224, 232, 250 
Daily Telegraph, 4, 21, 184 
Daumier, Honore, 128 
D'Aurelle de Paladines, General, 

188, 214, 215, 220, 222, 224, 225, 

233, 237, 238, 239, 240 
Davenport brothers, 186 
" Debacle, La," Zola's, 44, 293, 296 
Dejean, General, 53 
Delescluze, Charles, 19, 142, 150, 


Denfert-Rochereau, Colonel, 322 
Des Pallieres, General Martin, 237 

et seq. 

Devonshire, late Duke of, 40 
Dieppe, Germans reach, 251 
Dijon, fighting at, 219, 220, 226, 321 
Dore, Gustave, 40, 127 
Dorian, Fr6deric, 87, 149, 150, 151 
D'Orsay, Count, 230 
Douay, General Abel, 47 ; General 

F61ix, 43 

" Downfall, the," see Debacle. 
Droue, fight at, 243 et seq., 295, 296 
Dubost, Antonin, 316 
Ducrot, General, 34, 101, 141, 151, 

221, 222, 237, 253, 254, 319 
Duff, Brigadier-General (U.S.A.), 


Dumas, Alexandre, 19 
Dunraven, Lord, see Adare. 
Duvernois, Clement, 56 



" ECHOES of the Clubs," 40 

Edwardes, Mrs. Annie, 203 

Elgar, Dr. Francis, 223 

Elysee Palace, 329 

Emotions in war, 293 et seq. 

Empress, see Eugenie. 

English attempts to leave Paris, 

110 et seq. ; exodus from, 160 

et seq. 
Eugenie, Empress, 43, 45, 46, 51, 

52, 53, 54, 71, 82, 99, 127, 185 

FAIDHEBBE, General, 214, 228, 251, 
252, 254, 255, 316, 322 

Failly, General de, 43, 66 

Fashions, Paris, 17, 18, 107 

Favre, Jules, 20, 60, 67, 80, 84, 86, 
87, 107, 108, 109, 121, 144, 149, 
163, 231, 320, 321, 324 

Feilding, Major-General, 312, 313 

Fennell family, 4 

Ferry, Jules, 80, 86, 150, 151 

Fitz- James, Due de, 135 

Flourens, Gustavo, 19, 142, 143, 144, 
147, 150, 151 

Forbach, battle of, 50, 51 

Forbes, Archibald, 168, 326 

Forge, Anatole de la, 227 

Fourichon, Admiral, 87, 95, 207, 212 

Franco-German War, cause and 
origin of, 25, 26, 36, 37; pre- 
parations for, 34 et seq. ; outbreak 
of, 37 ; first French armies, 43 ; 
departure of Napoleon III for, 
44 et seq. ; Germans enter France, 
47 ; first engagements, 47, 48, 60, 
62, 63 ; news of Sedan, 66, 67 ; 
troops gathered in Paris, 87, 88, 
91 ; German advance on Paris, 
90 et seq. ; Chatillon affair, 101 
et seq. ; investment of Paris, 105 
et seq. ; French provincial armies, 
206 et seq. ; the fighting near Le 
Mans, 251 et seq. ; the retreat to 
Laval, 282 et seq. ; armistice and 
peace negotiations, 110, 147, 152, 
320, 321. See also Paris, and 
names of battles and commanders. 

Frederick, Emperor, see Crown 

Frederick Charles, Prince, of 
Prussia, 63, 146, 219, 225, 239, 
243, 255, 257, 266, 267, 269, 270, 
271, 274, 279, 282, 287, 288, 291 

Freycinet, Charles de Saulces de, 
213, 214, 220, 224, 225, 235, 237, 
238, 242, 254, 322 

Frossard, General, 34, 35, 43, 47, 50 

GALLIFFET, Mme. de, 64 
Gambetta, Leon, 19, 58, 59, 60, 79, 
80, 83, 86, 103, 108, 121 et seq., 
212, 213, 214, 218 et seq., 224, 
225, 229, 231, 232, 234, 235, 236, 
237, 238, 252, 253, 264, 258, 274, 
282, 301, 315, 316, 322, 326 
Garde, see Imperial, Mobile, and 

Garibaldi, General, 12, 40, 216 et 

seq., 226, 253, 321, 326 
Garibaldi, Ricciotti, 216, 226 
Garnier-Pages, 86 

Germans, early victories, 47, 48, 50, 
60 ; alleged overthrow at Jau- 
mont, 63 ; Sedan, 66, 67 ; advance 
on Paris, 90 et seq. ; expelled from 
Paris, 129 ; love of clocks, 93, 
109; Princes, 183, 187, 188; 
strategy, 270; exactions at Le 
Mans, 286 et seq. ; officers' 
manners, 291, 292 ; entry into 
Paris, 326 
Glais-Bizoin, 86, 95 
Godard brothers, 117 
Goeben, General von, 254, 316 
Gougeard, General, 236, 237, 240, 
244 etseq., 256, 258, 265, 269, 273, 
275, 276, 277 

Gramont, Due Agenor de, 37 
Gramont-Caderousse, Duo de, 291 
Greenwood, Frederick, 6, 223 
Guard, see Imperial, Mobile, 

HALIJDAY, Andrew, 197 

Hazen, General W. B. (U.S.A.), 194 

Heiduck, General von, 288 

H6ricourt, battle of, 317 

Home, David Dunglass, 184 et seq. 

Horses in the War, 203, 323 

Hozier, Captain, later Colonel, Sir 

H., 193, 271 
Hugo, Victor, 88, 89, 100, 150 

Illustrated London News, 14, 16, 17, 
18, 21, 23, 32, 71, 118 et seq., 161 
Illustrated Times, 5, 6, 14 
Imperial Guard, 38, 39 
Imperial Prince, 45, 46, 47 

JABBAS, General, 35 
Jaumont quarries, 63 
Jaureguiberry, Admiral, 262, 263, 

265, 267, 272, 273, 278, 281, 282, 

303, 304 
Jaures, Admiral, 231, 235, 236, 240, 

261, 265, 302 



Jerrold, Blanchard, 15, 57, 58, 


Johnson, Captain, 106, 107, 114 
Jouffroy, General, 256, 257, 263, 

267, 272, 273 
Jung, Captain, 44 

KANITZ, Colonel von, 289, 290 

Kean, Edmund, 4 

Keratry, Comte de, 87, 144, 231, 

234, 235, 236 
Kitchener, Lord, 314 
Kraatz-Koschlau, General von, 279, 


LABOUGHERE, Henry, 57, 130, 159 

Ladmirault, General de, 43 

La Ferte-Bernard, 268 

Lalande, General, 274, 275, 279 

La Malmaison sortie, 141, 197 

La Motto-Rouge, General de, 207, 

209, 212, 214 
Landells, 183 
Langres, 218, 253 
Laon, capitulation of, 90 
Laval, retreat on, 282, 301 et seq. ; 

adventure at, 306 et aeq. 
Lebceuf, Marshal, 27, 35, 43, 53 
Lebouedec, General, 236, 281, 303 
Lebrun, General, 34, 35, 43 
Lecomte, General, 329 
Ledru-RoUin, 150 
Le F16, General, 87, 207 
Lefort, General, 206, 207, 212 
Legislative Body, French (Palais 
Bourbon), 37, 53, 60, 61, 67, 74, 
75, 78 et seq., 84 

Le Mans, 201, 224, 225, 231, 235, 
236, 240, 242, 247, 248 ; Chanzy 
at, 254 et seq. ; town described, 
258 et seq. ; country around, 
260, 279; fighting near, 267 et 
aeq. ; decisive fighting begins, 
272, 275, 277 ; retreat from, 282, 
283, 284, 296, 297 et seq. ; battle 
losses at, 282, 283 ; street fighting 
at, 284 et seq. ; Germans at, 284 
et seq. ; their exactions, 286 et aeq. ; 
Chanzy's statue at, 292 
Lermina, Jules, 100 
Lewal, Colonel, 43 
Lipowski, Commandant, 316 
Lobbia, Colonel, 217, 218 
Loigny-Poupry, battle, 239 
Longwy, capitulation, 321 
Lycee Bonapatre, now Condorcet, 

15, 17, 18, 19 
Lyons, Lord, 95 

MACMAHOK, Marshal, 35, 43, 47, 50, 
55, 60, 67, 265 ; Mme. de, 64 

Magnin, M., 87 

Maine country, 243, 260 et seq. 

Malmaison, see La Malmaison. 

Mans, see Le Mans. 

Mantes, Germans at, 197 et seq. 

Manteuffel, General von, 228, 251, 
316, 321 

Marchenoir forest, 239, 240, 241 

Mario, Jessie White, 217 

Marseillaise, the, 49, 50 

Mayhew, brothers, 6, 7, 56 

Mazure, General, 212 

Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Frederick 
Francis, Grand Duke of, 208, 233, 
235, 238, 243, 266, 302, 316 

Metz, 44, 47, 146 et seq., 219, 225 

Michel, General, 225 

Millaud, A., his verses, 124, 125 

Middleton, Robert, 217 

Mobile Guard, 27, 28 ; in Paris, 61, 
87, 88, 99, 102, 103 

Moltke, Marshal von, 209, 215, 219, 
221, 243, 251, 321 

Monson, Sir Edmund, 41 

Montbard, artist, 23, 24 

Mora, Colonel, 266 

Morny, Due de, 52 

Motte Rouge, see La Mo tte -Rouge. 

Moulin, artist, 17, 21, 22, 44 

NADAB, Jules Tournachon, called, 
14, 98, 117, 118, 119 et seq., 124, 

Napoleon I, 188, 327, 328 

Napoleon III, 16, 21, 23 et seq., 30, 
31, 33 et seq., 39, 43 et seq., 54, 60, 
100, 185, 208, 324, 328 

Napoleon (Jerome), Prince, 36, 60 

National Assembly elected, 324, 

National Defence Government, 86, 
87, 90, 106 ; confirmed by a 
plebiscitum, 151 ; in the pro- 
vinces, 206, 207, 212, 213, 214 

National Guard (Paris), 51, 73, 74, 
75 et seq., 118, 129, 130, 132, 143, 
144, 150, 319, 325 ; of Chateau- 
dun, 145, 215 ; of Laval, 309 et 

New York Times, 42, 50, 61 

Niel, Marshal, 27, 34 

Noe, Vicomte de, see Cham. 

Nogent-le-Rotrou, 230, 267 

Noir, Victor, assassinated, 31 

Nuits, fighting at, 227, 253 



OLLIVIER, Emile, 33, 37, 45, 51 et 

aeq. ; Madame, 33, 52 
Orleans, 188, 208, 209, 210, 211, 

237 ; battle of, 239, 240 

PALADINES, see D'Aurelle. 

Palikao, General de, 54, 55, 60, 61, 
67, 79, 80 

Pall Mall Gazette, 6, 32, 223, 224, 
250, 301 

Parign6 1'Eveque, 262, 268, 269, 272 

Paris, cafes in, 19 ; riots in, 29, 30, 
33 ; elections in, 30, 31 ; early in 
the war, 39, 48 et seq., 51, 56 et 
aeq. ; defensive preparations, 56, 
60, 61, 91, 94, 96, 97 ; fugitives 
and refugees, 62, 92 ; wounded 
soldiers in, 62 ; Anglo -American 
ambulance in, 63 et aeq. ; army 
and armament of, 87, 145, 318 ; 
Hugo's return to, 88, 89 ; German 
advance on, 90 ; last day of 
liberty in, 96 ; live-stock in, 97 ; 
customary meat supply of, 97 ; 
clubs in, 65, 100, 134 et seq., 329 ; 
defence of Chatillon, 101 et aeq. ; 
siege begins, 104 ; attempts to 
leave, 110 et seq. ; first couriers 
from, 114 et aeq. ; balloon and 
pigeon post, 117 et aeq., 228, 229 ; 
siege jests, 126, 127 ; spyophobia 
and signal craze in, 129 et aeq. ; 
amazons of, 134 et aeq. ; re- 
connaissances and sorties from, 
139 et seq., 141, 142, 144, 146, 
148, 220, 221, 228, 237, 253, 
256, 318, 319; news of Metz 
in, 145 et aeq. ; demonstrations 
and riots in, 143, 144, 148 et aeq., 
319 ; plebiscitum in, 151 ; food 
and rations in, 152 et aeq., 228, 
229, 317 ; English people leave, 
160 et aeq. ; state of environs of, 
165 et aeq. ; steps to relieve, 219, 
222, 255, 256, 274; bombard- 
ment of, 221, 318 ; health of, 317, 
318 ; deserters in, 318 ; affray 
in, 319 ; capitulation of, 320 ; 
author returns to, 323 ; aspect 
after the armistice, 325 ; Ger- 
mans enter, 325 et aeq. ; rising of 
the Commune, 328 et aeq. See 
also Revolution. 

Paris, General, 268, 269, 273, 275 

" Partant pour la Syrie," 49 

Peace conditions, 110, 152, 324, 325 

" Pekin, Siege of," 41 

Pelcoq, Jules, artist, 16, 118, 156 

Pelletan, Eugene, 86 

Picard, Ernest, 86, 149, 150 

Pietri, Prefect, 70 

Pigeon-Post, 228, 229, 274 

Piquet, M., 283, 284, 299 

Pius IX, 185 

Pollard family, 4 

Pontifical Zouaves, 277 

Pontlieue (Le Mans), 263, 273, 275, 

280, 281, 283, 284, 293 
Pont-Noyelles, battle of, 252 
Postal -services, see Balloon, Courier, 


Prim, General, 232 
Prussians, not Germans, 108, 109 
Pyat, F61ix, 142, 145, 146, 147, 150 

QUATREFAGES de Breau, 109 
Quinet, Edgar, 88 

BAMPONT, Dr., 117 

" Red Badge of Courage," 293 

Red Cross Society, French, 63, 64 

Reed, Sir E. J., 223 

Rennes, 248, 249 

Retreat, Chanzy's, on Marchenoir 

forest, 240 ; on Le Mans, 242 et 

seq. ; on Laval, 282, 301 et aeq. 
Revolution of September 4. .67, 68, 

73 et seq. 

Reyau, General, 207 
Richard, Mayor of Le Mans, 275, 

286, 287, et seq. 
Robinson, Sir John, 223, 250 
Rochefort, Henri, 19, 29, 31, 32, 84, 

86, 127, 144, 146, 147, 149, 150 
Rochers, Chateau des, 306 
Rodellec du Porzic, Lieutenant, 245 
Roquebrune, General de, 283, 284 
Rothschild, Baron Alphonse de, 109, 


Rouen, Germans reach, 251 
Rouher, Eugene, 45, 60, 84 
Rousseau, General, 236, 256, 263, 

267, 269 
Russell, Sir William Howard, 40, 

183, 197 
Ryan, Dr. C. E., 63 

SAINT Agil, 246, 247 

Calais, 236, 241, 256, 257 

Cloud chateau destroyed, 140 

Jean-sur-Erve, 301 et seq., 316 

Malo, 202, 249, 301 

Quentin, defence of, 227 ; 

battle of, 316 
Servan, 20, 203 etseq., 305, 316 

Sainte Suzanne, 302 



Sala, G. A., 6, 7, 56, 67, 58, 68, 69, 

70, 82 

Sardou, Victorien, 81 
Sass, Marie, 50 
Saxe-Meiningen, Prince of, 66 
Saxony, Crown Prince of, 168, 326, 


Schmidt, General von, 284, 303 
Sedan, news of, 66, 67 ; Napoleon 

at, 208 

Senate, Imperial, 84 
Shackle, 4 

Sieges, see Paris and other places. 
Signal craze in Paris, 131 et seq. 
Sille-le-Guillaume, 233, 300, 301, 302 
Simon, Jules, 59, 83, 86 
Skinner, Hilary, 183 
Sologne region, 211 
Songs, some Victorian, 13 
Sophia, Queen of Holland, 185 
Spuller, Eugene, 122 
Spyophobia in Paris, 129 et seq. ; at 

Laval, 306 et seq. 
Stendhal, 293 
Stofiel, Colonel, 34 
Strasbourg, siege of, 98, 142 
Susbielle, General, 237 

TANN, General von der, 146, 208, 
210, 212, 214, 215, 222, 224 

Tertre Rouge position (Le Mans), 
262, 275, 279 

Thackeray, W. M., 7, 8 

Thiers, Adolphe, 60, 80, 90, 147, 152, 
324, 325, 329 

Thomas, General Clement, 329 

Tibaldi, 149 

Times, the, 183, 224 

Tissandier brothers, 266, 314 

Toul capitulates, 142 

Treaty, see Peace. 

Trochu, General, 28, 60, 71, 72, 80, 
84, 96, 91, 98, 99, 101, 129, 133, 
141, 144, 148, 149, 150, 151, 207, 
220, 221, 222, 229, 231, 237, 254, 
256, 265, 274, 319, 320 

Troppmann, 31 

Tuilerie position (Le Mans), 262, 279 
etseq., 295 

Tuileries palace, 22, 70, 81, 82, 329 

UHBICH, General, 98 

VAILLANT, Marshal, 131 
Valentin, Edmond, 98 
Vendome column, 329 
Versailles during Paris siege, 105, 
182 et seq. 

Villemessant, H. de, 115, 116 

Villersexel, battle of, 254, 317 

Villorceau, fighting at, 240 

Vimercati, Count, 36 

Vinoy, General, 87, 101, 237, 319, 
320, 321 

Vizetelly family, 2 et seq. 

Vizetelly, Adrian, 63, 223 

Arthur, 9, 14, 20, 323, 326, 330 
Edward Henry, 2, 9, 14, 17, 
29 32, 42, 50, 217, 218, 226 
Elizabeth Anne, 9 
Ellen Elizabeth, 4, 5 
Ernest Alfred, parentage, 4, 
5 ; men he saw in childhood, 6, 8 ; 
his passionate temper, 6, 7 ; at 
school at Eastbourne, 9 et seq. ; at 
London sights, 11 ; sees Gari- 
baldi, 12 ; and Nadar, 14 ; goes 
to France, 14, 15 ; at the Lycee 
Bonaparte, 15, 18, 19 ; his tutor 
Brossard, 15, 16 ; sees an attempt 
on Alexander II, 16 ; assists his 
father, 17 et seq. ; his first article, 
18 ; sees famous Frenchmen, 19 ; 
visits the Tuileries, 22 ; goes to 
Compiegne, 22, 23 ; is addressed 
by Napoleon III, 23, 24; sees 
Paris riots, 29, 30 ; visits Prince 
Pierre's house, 31 ; is befriended 
by Captain Bingham, 32 ; dreams 
of seeing a war, 38 et seq. ; has a 
glimpse of its seamy side, 42, 43 ; 
sees Napoleon III set out for the 
war, 44 et seq. ; hears Capoul sing 
the " Marseillaise," 49, 50 ; sees 
a demonstration, 51 ; meets 
English newspaper correspond- 
ents, 56 et seq. ; is called a little 
spy by Gambetta, 58, 59 ; with 
the Anglo-American ambulance, 
63 et seq. ; witnesses the Revolu- 
tion, 67, 68, 73 et seq. ; takes a 
letter to Trochu, 71, 72 ; sees 
Victor Hugo's return to Paris, 88, 
89 ; witnesses a great review, 91 ; 
describes Paris's last day of 
liberty, 96 et seq. ; sees Captain 
Johnson arrive, 106, 107 ; visits 
balloon factories, 117 et seq. ; 
ascends in Nadar's captive bal- 
loon, 120 ; sees Gambetta leave 
in a balloon, 121, 122 ; learns 
fencing, 127 ; goes to a women's 
club, 134 et seq. ; interviews the 
Paris Amazons, 136 et seq. ; wit- 
nesses the demonstration of 
October 21.. 43, 144; and that 



of October 31. .149 et seq. ; food 
arrangements of his father and 
himself, 153 et seq. ; leaves Paris, 
164 et aeq. ; at Brie Comte- 
Robert, 172 et seq. ; at Corbeil, 
177 et seq. ; at Champlan, 179, 180 ; 
at Versailles, 182 et seq. ; visits 
Colonel Walker with his father, 
190 et seq. ; leaves Versailles, 196, 
197 ; at Mantes, 198, 199 ; 
reaches Saint Servan, 203 ; visits 
the Camp of Conlie, 232 et seq. ; 
accompanies Gougeard's division 
to the front, 240 et seq. ; in the 
retreat on Le Mans, 242 et seq. ; 
receives the baptism of fire, 245 ; 
has an amusing experience at 
Rennes, 248, 249 ; returns to Le 
Mans, 263 ; sees and sketches 
Chanzy, 265, 276 ; witnesses 
part of the battle of Le Mans, 
272 et seq. ; sees the stampede 
from the tile-works, 281 ; and 
the confusion at Le Mans, 283 et 
seq. ; his views on German 
officers, 291, 292 ; on a soldier's 
emotions, 293, 294, 295; on 
ambulances, 296; escapes from 
Le Mans, 297 et seq. ; at Sille-le- 
Guillaume, 300 ; at the fight of 
Saint Jean-sur-Erve, 302 et seq. ; 
follows the retreat, 304, 305 ; 
returns to Laval, 306 ; has a 
dramatic adventure there, 307 
et seq. ; returns to Paris, 323 ; 
sees the Germans enter Paris, 
326 et seq. ; some of his experi- 
ences during the Commune, 329 
Vizetelly, Frank, 4, 12, 40, 41, 127 

, Francis (Frank) Horace, 3, 9 

, Frederick Whitehead, 4, 249, 


Vizetelly, Henry, 3 

, Henry Richard (author's 

father), 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 16, 17, 
18, 20, 22, 23, 31, 32, 48, 56, 58, 
67, 68, 71, 73 etseq., 118, 121, 128, 
143, 158, 160, 161, 165, 172 et 
seq., 189 et seq., 194, 197 et seq., 
204, 205, 305 et seq., 323, 326, 330 

, James Thomas George, 4, 17, 


, James Henry, 3, 4 

, Montague, 17, 20, 250, 301 

Voigts Rhetz, General von, 279, 
286, 290 

Vosges, see Army of the. 

Voules, Horace, 9 

WALKER, Colonel Beauchamp, 190 

et seq. 

War, emotions in, 293 et aeq. ; war- 
news in 1870. .252, 253. See also 

Franco-German War. 
Washburne, Mr., 163, 165, 194 
Werder, General von, 216, 219, 225, 

226, 253, 254, 316 
Whitehurst, Felix, 21 
William, King of Prussia, later 

Emperor, 109, 128, 169, 185, 197, 

209, 215, 318, 327 
Wimpfen, General de, 101 
Wittich, General von, 145, 210, 215 
Wodehouse, Hon. Mr., 95, 162, 165, 

172 et seq., 196 
Wolseley, Field-Marshal Lord, 40, 41 

Yvre-1'Eveque, 235, 236, 248, 258, 
259, 261, 262, 268, 275, 276, 277 

ZOLA, Emile, his " La Deb&cle," 
44, 293, 296 






DC Vize telly, Ernest Alfred 

285 My days of adventure